Series 18 also has one cast change. The show gets a new medical examiner in Dr. Kam Karimore (Manjinder Virk) as Dr. Kate Wilding (Tamzin Malleson) leaves the department to become a professor at a university, apparently moving in with Ben Jones (Jason Hughes). Karimore appears to be a competitive character with a lot of forensic knowledge that is sure to help DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee) in their investigations.
In the first episode, "Habeas Corpus," the team not only meets the new medical examiner, but also have to try to solve their case without a body to examine. The first missing body in this case happens when the wealthy landowner, Gregory Lancaster, dies in bed surrounded by his family, but when the undertaker arrives, the body has gone missing. As Barnaby and Nelson start to dig into the abduction, they start to wonder if the man's body was taken to hide evidence of foul play, and when a body connected to the Lancasters is dug up in a local cemetery, matters grow even more grim.
The second mystery, "The Incident at Cooper Hill," centers around apparent UFO activity. A forest ranger's body is discovered near a place frequented by UFO hunters (and tourists). Oddly enough, the body is found encased in an unusual substance that Karimore has a hard time identifying. As more and more clues start coming in, the two detectives might have to consider the possibility of alien involvement, but it seems a lot of signs are also pointing to a local air force base, especially when some unexpected relationships start to get uncovered.
Cycling is the setting for the series' third episode. In "Breaking The Chain," the winner of a cycling competition ends up dead during a cool-down time, and it seems the killer could be anyone. Could the murder involve a rivalry between the winner and his teammates, or could it involve another team entirely? When the competition's patroness, a local councilwoman, starts to receive threatening mail, viewers have to wonder if she is somehow involved in the death. Of course, she tries to do everything she can to keep the threats from Barnaby.
After dealing with bicycle-related deaths, the team has to investigate murders taking place in a newly opened sculpture park. In "A Dying Art," the owner of the park is killed during the grand opening party and, as always, it looks like there is no lack of suspects. Between the villagers who didn't want the park opened in the first place, the family who learned that other ventures will be closed down and even the groundskeeper who has apparently been left with everything, motives are not hard to find. As the deaths continue, each one seems to be its own piece of art, and it becomes clear that the killer could be one of the artists related to the park, but is it someone featured in the exhibition, or someone snubbed and turned away?
The collection's second-to-last episode starts off with the death of an archaeologist who just uncovered a body that could put a different light on a local church's reliquary. In "Saints and Sinners," Barnaby visits the small village of Cicely, named after a religious figure from the area. While the dig has uncovered the potential burial place of Cicely, the fact that the church claims to have her bones already means that the head of the church might have a few questions to answer. As Barnaby and Nelson investigate, they learn that the same head-clergyman is the brother of the person funding the dig and it becomes apparent that the murders could be caused by an extreme case of sibling rivalry. As always with this series though, there are many twists and turns and red herrings to be sifted through before the true killer is sleuthed out.
Series 18 wraps up with "Harvest of Souls." In this episode, Barnaby, Nelson and Karimore start their investigation when a landowner appears to be trampled by a horse. When Karimore reports that the victim was injected with a large dose of ketamine, Barnaby's attentions focus on the local equestrian vets. Interestingly enough, the vets, like most people in the area, were about to be evicted as the victim had plans for the area. What makes this mother/daughter team even more suspicious though, is the fact that the daughter is the victim's ex-wife and the custody of their daughter might change to her now that the kid's father is dead. Of course, nothing is that cut and dry in Midsomer. There are also the members of the traveling fair to consider. It seems that they were also told they wouldn't be able to perform in future years, and there seems to be an odd pattern of stolen property wherever they go. While they've never been convicted, and theft is a long way from murder, Barnaby has to consider them as suspects. As if the deaths weren't enough to investigate, a trailer full of horses also get stolen and the team has to track down the missing animals, and hopefully doing so will help them find the killer.
Midsomer Murders: Series 18 comes with more special features than I remember being packaged with any previous Midsomer releases in the past. For one, there are four behind the scenes featurettes focusing on each of the first four episodes. While none of these are long, they do give a little extra something to each episode. There are also two interviews: one is an interview with Dudgeon about working with both a dog and a pair of twins that play John and Sarah's (Fiona Dolman) baby. Another interview focuses on Karimore and how the character will fit into the team.
While it appears that "Harvest of Souls" is the last episode for DS Nelson, Series 18 seems to end on a high note with some unusual cases. The addition of Karimore seems to be a good fit for the team, and hopefully whoever replaces Nelson as Barnaby's DS will also work well with the group. Fans of the show shouldn't miss these six episodes, and if you've been purchasing the DVDs, then this is a series you won't want to skip.