It’s been ten years since author Bertram Jewel (Jon Culshaw) caused a sensation with his book. In this he gave numerous puzzles and clues. If you manage to solve them all, the book would lead you to a treasure. Many have tried it, but despite great efforts and countless fan theories, no one has come up with the solution. The treasure is still waiting to be discovered. But maybe it will work now, a new edition of the bestseller has been announced, which should contain further information. The audience is looking forward to the publication, and the media is also interested in Jewel again – until a journalist exposes him in public. The supposed mystery king is actually a convicted con artist named Robert Grimes. And a short time later he is dead, which is why Inspector John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix) have to solve numerous mysteries…
Puzzles on multiple levels
Everything comes to an end, including the current season of Inspector Barnaby. Although that’s not exactly true. ZDF is selling the four films in the endless crime series, which were broadcast in January 2024 and are also being released together as a DVD box, as part of the same season. In fact, they come from two seasons. Only The Fall of the House of Shirewell and The Book of Bertram are actually from the most recent season 24, the other two were from the previous season. That leaves two films missing, which were also made for the 24, but will probably not be released until next year. That is confusing. On the other hand, the individual films always stand on their own anyway. It also means that this year’s momentum ends with the best part.
Of course, the principle has not changed. As with most of 1997, there is a brief introduction where we get to know the characters before one of them is killed. Our title hero, together with his loyal assistant and the audience, must now find out who did it. As is usual with these crime novels, there are a number of people who could be considered in Inspector Barnaby: The Book of Bertram. Especially since it is initially unclear whether it is the long-ago incident that earned him this hatred or the issue with the puzzle book. As the police duo wanders back and forth between these options, new insights emerge and further leads lead to new possibilities. It’s not original, but it works well.
Added to this is the humor that the series is known for. Sometimes the scenarios are somehow strange, sometimes it’s the characters. In Inspector Barnaby: The Book of Bertram it is both. The idea of focusing on a book in which people have come up with the most idiotic theories in search of treasure is a hit. Screenwriter Jeff Povey celebrates how people talk shop and fans consider everything possible and impossible. Another source of laughter is the forensic pathologist Dr. Fleur Perkins (Annette Badland), who is not above a dry and mean saying and has chosen Winter as an easy victim. As in the episode Dressed To Kill, where he was bullied by a transvestite, you can feel sorry for him.
But the real tragedy lies in the long-ago prehistory. This is brought up again and again and brings with it a stronger contrast as Povey avoids all jokes here. It doesn’t quite fit together, especially because the new murders all have a bizarre note. But it’s not really annoying, overall you can hardly complain here. Inspector Barnaby: The book Bertram is a lot stronger compared to the previous film and shows the local crime competition how you can combine a tricky case with fun.
As is often the case, “Midsomer Murders” combines a classic crime thriller with a lot of humor when the author of a puzzle book that is supposed to lead to treasure means his death. A very tragic back story doesn’t quite fit into the film when there is a strong contrast. Otherwise it’s fun, also because of the fans who exchange their strange theories.