Inspector Lynley is asked by his old school friend to investigate when one of his pupils is killed. The school in question is Bredgar Hall, a haven for the rich and the privileged with annual fees of £20,000 a year. The dead boy however, 13 year-old Matthew Whately didn't come from a rich family. From all accounts, he was well liked and fit into the school and its unique culture quite well. DS Havers is appalled with the whole concept of parents shipping their children off to a boarding school just when they need parenting the most. Faced with school administrators who seem more concerned with the school's reputation than the boy's death, Lynley and Havers must determine if the threat is from students, staff or someone not at all connected with the school. Written by
I see a lot of movies, and many of them are mysteries, or advertise themselves so.
I'm particularly attracted to these because I believe they are a sort of sketchpad for experiments in storytelling, how narrative can be boogered around to challenge and engage us. Those that adapt Christie and the Holmes stories particularly interest because they are film adaptations of something that works. How the adapters succeed or fail in working with the narrative tricks, tells me a lot about film works, how my mind works, and to some extent how I make stories about how the world works.
If the project is a BBC production, I am universally disappointed. And that's not just mysteries. If they start with a book that has depth, they trammel all the important achievements of the author. "Bleak House," "Middlemarch," "Pride and Prejudice" are all successful entertainments in their TeeVee incarnations with amusing characters. But these were born with souls and the BBC production factory rips that soul out and replaces it with what they believe is modern storytelling that works or at least brings viewers back.
I don't get so upset when the original book is by a secondary talent, as is George. But she IS a talent. Her mysteries use the form as the merest of familiar skeletons on which to hang all sorts of internal thoughts. The secrets in her stories aren't who did the murder. There's some revelation in why, of course. But the main secrets are those carried by her two detectives and how they "uncover" them using the detective form of discovery and encounter. Its a worthy thing.
Now this. It is the first I have seen of the series. It has that once-ironically lovely, now dreadful, dreadful woman introducing it, to tell us what it is "all about." As if it were about characters.
So okay, we plod through the story: a murder, procedurals, disclosure. The lives of the detectives hardly matter. The working class woman partner does have her challenge with her folks. But its shoehorned in as a background issue. Its story, you see and they couldn't jettison it even though they ripped out all the connection to discovery.
My. We celebrate that we have publicly funded broadcasting that respects intelligent material in the face of vulgar market needs and general dumbness. Oh yeah?
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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