THE STRAW WOMAN
Upset and concerned about his close friend's murder, the local vicar, Rev Jim Hale, seeks solace in prayer. The next morning he's found dead inside the church, his body mysteriously burnt. DCI Barnaby and Sgt Scott learn that Hale's body spontaneously combusted. When Barnaby and Scott discover that the vicars were also lovers, suspects and motives start to emerge.
Outraged at the murders, parish minders point the finger at Alan Clifford. An ex-nightclub owner, Clifford recently purchased the local manor and is known for his outrageous parties and low morals. Much to the displeasure of the parishioners, he controversially converted the manor's chapel into a leopard skin and velvet boudoir. Dakin visited Clifford the day of his death to try and reclaim the chapel.
It's no secret that Clifford is also unwell and undergoing supervised medical treatment of a different kind. His preference for alternative medicine has outraged the local GP Dr John Cole. When Dr Cole becomes a victim of spontaneous combustion, the case against Clifford intensifies.
But the villagers have made accusations elsewhere, laying the blame on the young, new schoolteacher Liz Francis. Responsible for the bonfire, she has also taken an interest in Midsomer Parva's early history of witchcraft and the witch trials. With no suspects or explanation for the deaths by spontaneous combustion, the villagers accuse Liz of being a witch and mob mentality sets in.
With pressure mounting from the villagers, the race is on to find the murderer and bring them to justice. But not before Sgt Scott experiences his own shocking tragedy along the way.
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