Barnaby sighed. ‘Must admit, Lewis, that I’m baffled. Thought I knew all about Midsomer from watching the screenings of the cases which my cousin, the first Inspector Barnaby, tackled. But things aren’t going according to script now.’

Lewis nodded. ‘Well, us meeting isn’t either, but what’s the problem?’

‘Midsomer’s soaring middle class crime rate.’

‘Nothing new there, surely. Midsomer’s always had more murders than Al Capone’s Chicago.’

‘That’s it, Lewis. Used to be simple. Murderer always the vicar.’

‘Yes, Barnaby. Made solving things easy.’

‘But now it’s not murder. Young Wives Club at the local church nicked for decorating the church with marijuana plants. Next village the Brownie leader had the girls running a protection racket, pelting those whom didn’t cough up with A&M hymnbooks.’

Lewis swigged his pint. ‘What about the vicars?’

‘All gone soft. Mugging now not murdering.

‘Well, you’re not alone with odd goings-on church-wise. We’ve had a rash of graffiti saying ‘Bishop of

Oxford is Innocent." ‘Ah, Sergeant Hathaway. Come and join us. A pint?’

Lewis confided to Barnaby. ‘Hathaway may have a clue. He was an apprentice vicar before he abandoned God for the Squad.’

Hathaway nursed his pint. ‘Simple. The new CofE policy dreamed up by the Bishop of Oxford that Church schools shouldn’t favour churchgoing families but take non-churchgoers’

Hathaway concluded. ‘So Midsomer’s churchgoing parents despairingly think that a conviction or conversion could be the only way in for their kids. As for the Bishop of Oxford. Probably he’ll soon be chairing a committee on falling church attendance.’

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