While on detachment to the Lancashire police, DI Lynley investigates the apparent murder of the Reverend Robin Sage who is found on a rural path, where he was presumably walking home. The autopsy reveals that he was poisoned with wild hemlock. He had dinner the previous evening with Juliet Spence who was also violently ill through the night, but survived the poisoning. Juliet is involved in a relationship with PC Steve Shepherd, son of the local DCI Kenneth Shepherd and it is apparent that Juliet's teenage daughter, Maggie, is not pleased with her mother's choice. Uncovering a false identity is central to solving the crime. Lynley meanwhile has fallen in love with Helen Clyde, but can't quite bring himself to do something about it. DS Havers is dealing with the aftermath of having placed her aging mother in a care home. Written by
Barbara Havers? Finally get to put a face to the name.
[laughs nervously, unsure of his meaning]
I was working with the Met last year. They were offering five to one that your partnership wouldn't make it out of the paddock.
I beg your pardon?
Just a bit of fun. I'm sure everyone's delighted that Barbara eventually found someone she's able to work with.
You know, call me snob, Tony, but given the choice between workin' with a ...
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I wonder if I have this wrong. I recall that in the books, our male detective is quite a bit different than what we have here. I recall he was an Earl, drove the Bentley to work. Shades of Peter Wimsey. Also that he was alarmingly depressed, a boozer, a poet, someone who would lose himself in loud classical music. Unlike Holmes, he didn't play it, merely listened, a difference worth noting to this victim of noir forces.
The producers decided to focus on his sidekick, who has depressions of her own that are more readily dramatized. Oh well.
The story? I'll tell you that it is remarkably well done, quite good compared to others in this series and in the larger collection of the branded "Mystery" offerings.
Why? The folks behind this one had some competence with cinematic storytelling. In the very first scene, we know that a woman is a particularly skilled cook and is nervous about what she is preparing, that her daughter has some special gloomy burden, in addition to and beyond loneliness. Also that there is a prettier, younger woman involved and some of our characters will be watching others. All this is conveyed visually without anyone having to tell us in words.
So in the first two minutes (after Diana Rigg reads some irrelevant tripe), you know you will get something better than usual.
The business between the male detective and his two women, and between them and the force the main thing in the books, is here gladly made secondary to the mystery. Its quite interesting. You cannot possibly guess what's behind the murder, but it is clever, so clever and cinematically so.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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