I picked up the oldest, most tatty, smoke-infested copy from the library, but that didn't deter my enjoyment.
Emily Simpson is a Proper Old Spinster who witnesses something shocking and embarrassed while walking through the woods in search of a certain flower. When Emily is found dead in her cottage, her best friend and flower searching rival, Lucy Bellringer, visits Inspector Barnaby to ask him to look into Emily's death, which she finds highly suspicious. After some initial investigating, it emerges that Miss Simpson was poisoned by hemlock.
The village is populated with suspects, all of whom naturally have secrets of their own and a minimum of alibis. The town doctor, Dr. Lessiter, visits a house of ill repute and his younger, spoiled wife has been stepping out with a local farm hand; the beautiful and sweet Katherine is engaged to be married to the wealthy but crippled Henry, whose first wife died in a hunting accident where most of the suspects happened to be present; Henry's maiden sister, Phyllis, detests Katherine for taking Henry from her; Michael, Katherine's brother, is a tortured but extremely talented artist who scorns Katherine for selling out and marrying Henry for his money; the Rainbirds, an extremely odd mother and son who ran a funeral business/blackmailing scheme. Meanwhile, Sergeant Troy hates gays, rich people, poor people, smart people, and basically everyone.
So, I ended up really enjoying this book and I will definitely try to read the others in the series. Even though Inspector Barnaby wasn't particularly nice and Sergeant Troy was appalling, the mystery was complicated enough without being incredible, and the writing was very witty. Obviously, it's not as old fashioned as my beloved Agatha, and there were some racy parts (incest, sexy scenes), but they were mostly alluded to, which I prefer. And I loved Miss Simpson and Miss Bellringer, mostly because I hope to be like them someday.