If I owned Midsomer… but I don't, so I'm writing Fanfic!
Joyce Barnaby was happily married, thank you very much. Yes, there were the sleepless nights spent worrying about Tom, but she wouldn't change a thing. Sometimes though, she felt like slapping her husband. This was one of those times.
. . . . .
"A murder mystery evening?" Arriving back home from solving a particularly gruesome murder, DCI Tom Barnaby was somewhat taken aback by the fact he and his wife had been invited to a murder mystery evening.
"Come on Tom, it'll be fun." Joyce tried reasoning. "We haven't visited Sandra and David in ages. And the Wilsons will be there too, and Alan Jones. You won't even have to dress up."
"It's a themed murder?"
"Yes, 'Murder On the Tracks'. It's set in the 20s. Anyway, Sandra will be cooking, and we'll all eat before starting the game." Joyce could see she had won her husband over. What she didn't know was that he was simply glad to be given an excuse not to have to eat her cooking. Better to live in blissful ignorance.
. . . . .
The dinner had gone well, Joyce thought. Tom hadn't mentioned any of his grisly actual murders. Having received her character profile, she was pleased to discover that she wasn't the murderer. Now she could have fun solving this. Moving into the sitting room, her heart sank. Tom had his face on. The face he used when sizing up a suspect, the face that could look right through you. With a sigh, she sat down next to him.
"You will play by the rules of the game, won't you Tom"
She was cut off by Kate Wilson. "Ooh, yes, you're a policeman, aren't you Tom? I bet you're used to solving these kind of things."
"Yes" Joyce answered for her husband "But he won't spoil our fun. I'll shut him up if needs be."
"Right!" Sandra clapped her hands together. "Let's start."
. . . . .
Well into the game, Joyce was pleased with her husband's behaviour. He hadn't ruthlessly interrogated anyone, and seemed to be enjoying himself. He was currently outside, taking an important phone call. He arrived back in the room, a few minutes later, with a smile on his face. Sitting back in his chair, he motioned for the rest to carry on with their game.
When the time came to ask the other players questions, Tom remained silent, still with that knowing smile on his face.
"Aren't you going to ask any questions?" Joyce asked, slightly worried by her husband's behaviour.
"No, no, go ahead, don't worry about me." It hit Joyce then.
"You've already solved this, haven't you?" Her eyes narrowed. "Did that phone call you made have anything to do with this?"
The others were watching this exchange intently. Barnaby shifted in his seat.
"Well, I did call Troy to get his opinion, and then it hit me who the murderer was. It was quite simply really…"
He was cut off by Joyce.
"Well stay quiet until the end of the game then. Don't spoil it for the rest of us mere mortals."
Barnaby nodded, then settled back into his chair and closed his eyes.
Joyce sighed. She knew things had been too good to be true.
. . . . .
It was time. The moment Joyce had been dreading. Standing up, she announced who she thought the murderer was.
"I think it was Lady Cramlington. She was obviously bitter that Sarah Drake was having an affair with her husband, so she killed her." Joyce sat down, and prepared herself for the inevitable.
"Tom?" Sandra prompted him. "Who do you think the murderer was?"
Barnaby rose, and surveyed his audience.
"It was Eddie Ames. He'd been having a relationship with Lord Cramlington, not Sarah, but she did happen to stumble upon them once. She used the opportunity to blackmail Lord Cramlington, as she was going to leave the country on the train and live with her sister. Lord Cramlington here didn't want news of his affair to get out, so convinced Eddie to kill Sarah, keeping himself out of trouble."
Barnaby sat down. The other guests had a look of shock on their faces. Joyce had her head in her hands.
Sandra attempted a smile. "Right, well, could the murderer please stand up."
Kate Wilson stood up. "It was me, Lady Cramlington. I didn't like Sarah having an affair with my husband." She sat down. Barnaby refused to meet his wife's eyes.
. . . . .
Driving home, Joyce couldn't resist a jibe.
"You were so sure you were right! Oh, I can't believe this."
"On the contrary, Joyce. I knew Lady Cramlington was the murderer, I just wanted to give you the chance to be the one to solve the murder. I simply used the story of that murder I solved a couple of days ago, just tailored it to fit the game."
Typical man. Joyce thought, then, I wish I could just slap him.