"A Dog's Ransom" made such an impression on me when I viewed it as a young person, that it has only been in the last 10 years that I realised Patricia Highsmith was an American author. She wrote the book in the early 70s when critics were not praising everything she did and the reviews were mixed. The book was a scathing attack on the Nixon era, was very anti-establishment and had a typical explosive Highsmith ending (it actually reminded me, in an odd way of "The Blunderer"). It was set among the high society and the high livers in New York and contained a lot more violence than the TV series - the way Tina was killed, a subplot involving the couple's murdered daughter, even the wife Greta, was not the passive tea drinker of the show but attended political rallies etc.
By setting the series in England, it changed the dynamics of the story
even though it was supposed to be the city, the show had a distinct,
country air to it. Edward and Gina have been receiving poison pen letters. When their little dog, Tina, goes missing they visit the police and are almost laughed out of the station by a very insensitive constable, who informs them that the police have real crime to solve (although the amount of time he spends standing moodily around and wandering London, it doesn't look like it)!!!
A young policeman Clarence Duhamel, observes the way they are treated. He has been educated at Cambridge and for three years has been on the receiving end of some appalling bullying (being called "girlie", questioned about his sexual preferences) by this same thuggish constable. He sees the couple as "the right sort of people" and on his own time, starts to investigate the dog's disappearance. His girlfriend works for the social services and she recognises the work of the poison pen letter writer instantly - he is a Polish refugee, a compulsive letter writer and a real troublemaker. Clarence goes to see him, to try to reason with him - big mistake, people like that cannot be reasoned with. Gina, the wife, comments during the show that Clarence is a real innocent and shouldn't even be in the police force - how right she is!!!
Events escalate from this small crime. Clarence is just too young and inexperienced to handle things on his own. The letter writer is extremely evil and as Clarence negotiates the ransom, things go completely wrong and the dog is killed. I watched it in one sitting and while the first 3 episodes were exciting and well paced, episodes 4 and 5 bogged down a bit, too much time was spent in police interviews, there were even a pair of investigators from Scotland Yard who must have been put in for comic relief. Although if you were watching it as it was meant to be watched, one half hour episode a week, you would have been eagerly awaiting each episode I think. Episode 6 bought the series to a shocking conclusion in a typical Patricia Highsmith fashion.
Highly, Highly Recommended.
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