|Index||2 reviews in total|
Once again, like "A Mind to Murder", the writers chose to bypass
PD James and make up their own version of the story. In the book,
a famous mystery writer is found dead in the bottom of a dinghy on
the Suffolk coast with both of his hands chopped off. Adam is on
holiday there visiting his Aunt Jane and having to make a decision
about his relationship with Deborah Riscoe. He gets involved
simply as a spectator because his aunt is one of the suspects. He
and the investigating officer , aptly called Inspector Reckless, don't
like each other right off and even with the same clues, AD is able
to figure out the murder method and the Inspector is not. His only
reference to Deborah Riscoe in the book is a letter (and poem) he
writes her but never mails and then he receives one from her. The
movie version has totally done away with the Aunt, brought
Deborah to the country and visiting Adam while he is on the case,
getting attacked by the murder suspect and finally coming to her
decision about the two of them with her boss. It has lost all the
momentum of the novel but did retain the storm scene where
Adam is almost killed/drowned..
Now, I am not suggesting you shouldn't watch this story, on the contrary, Roy Marsden is , as always, a class act as Dalgliesh. Just don't expect the same level of suspense as the book. Do the screenwriters ever read the book first or do they make up stuff as they go along?
A handless corpse in a small boat and a long-ago death figure into the
plot of "Unnatural Causes". The story has about the right number of
suspects. The ending was a surprise to me; I had guessed the murderer
to be a different person.
In this whodunit story by mystery writer P.D. James, the inevitable comparison is to the works of Agatha Christie, whose stories run the gamut from fairly good to brilliant. There are plenty of red herrings and plot twists in "Unnatural Causes", which may help to explain how I got the killer wrong. The two authors thus compare favorably in terms of plots. The script does a good job of identifying character names except for Dalgliesh's girlfriend.
On the other hand, although I found Adam Dalgliesh (Roy Marsden) to be sufficiently intellectual, he was less interesting and less quirky than a Hercule Poirot or other Christie police character. I did not care for the romantic subplot between Dalgliesh and his girlfriend. The girlfriend character I did not like at all. The subplot seemed distracting and intrusive to the murder mystery.
Prod design and costumes are acceptable, especially given that this is a made-for-TV movie. But sound quality was not all that great. At the end, the killer's explanation largely escaped me because the person either mumbled their script lines; or more likely, ambient sounds were too loud relative to the dialogue.
"Unnatural Causes" will generally appeal to viewers who enjoy whodunit mysteries. I'm not one to downgrade a film just because it doesn't conform precisely to the book on which it is based, though some people will. Overall, I would rate this film at least average, or maybe slightly above, for its genre.
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