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Written in Blood is the first episode of the first series, the second overall after the pilot, of the popular ITV crime drama Midsomer Murders and first aired 22nd March 1998.


Gerald Hadleigh, secretary of a writers’ circle, is found battered to death the morning after the group’s meeting with best-selling novelist (and former psycho-therapist) Max Jennings. Gerald did not want to invite Max to Midsomer Worthy, and he seemed apprehensive about the visit. Barnaby’s investigations show that Gerald was a man of mystery—he had no National Insurance number, no family, and no marriage certificate to go with his wife's photograph. And it seems he had a mysterious woman visitor on the night of his death... then Max Jennings goes missing and is found dead.


The Midsomer Worthy Writers Circle invites well-known author Max Jennings to one of their monthly meetings. The group's secretary, Gerald Hadleigh is opposed to the invitation but is outvoted. It becomes apparent that Jennings and Hadleigh knew one another at one time. When Hadleigh is found dead the next day, Barnaby and Troy begin looking into the backgrounds of the various Circle members and try to locate Jennings. When they do find him he is, as they say, incapable of assisting them with their inquiries. A second murder adds to the puzzle but in the end, the solution rests on learning of long-ago events and a hidden family secret. At home, the Barnaby's agree to care for daughter Cully's Russian Blue cat Killmouskie, with interesting results for Tom.



Body Count

Prior to the Episode

In the Episode

Supporting Cast

Episode Images


  • This episode and The Dagger Club share some similarities:
    • In both episodes, the action is centred around books and the solution to the investigation lies in a book. Also, the person who reads the book is not the DCI Barnaby of the time, but the Mrs Barnaby of the episode.
    • In both episodes, Una Stubbs is a guest actor.
    • The musical themes for the episodes ("Discovery of a dead body" for Written in Blood and "Roulette" for The Dagger Club) are very similar.
  • It is revealed that Tom is allergic to cat fur.
  • This is the first time the Causton Comprehensive School is mentioned and also the first time it is shown.
  • Following the previous episode, this is the second time when the murderer/murderers die before they can be arrested by Barnaby and Troy.
  • This is the first appearance of Timothy Bateson's character Mr. Jocelyne. He also appeared in the episodes Death's Shadow and Orchis Fatalis and was mentioned in several other episodes.
  • Although, Marlene Sidaway had a small role as a counsellor in the previous episode, Written in Blood marked the debut of Mrs. Bundy. The character later appeared in Death's Shadow

The following actors and actresses that first appeared in this episode have appeared in subsequent episodes


  1. the Script mentions the poison as Valium Sulphate, however it is more likely Thallium Sulphate