This is the story of a young female so obsessed with perfection and vengeance that she sees killing as a logical way to order her day to day and spiritual life.
Starting in the modern day Rosie/Angel (Emilia Fox) seems a cold and intense young woman who stalks and murders with a cool efficiency to honour her hero, Francis Youlgrave a disgraced former priest. Devoted to a pseudo-Catholic cult of her own making based on Youlgrave's poetry where she learns the cleric believed himself to be an angel and drifted along into the world of blood sacrifice in order to complete the Eucharist.
What pleased me most was that the TV trilogy is extremely faithful to the excellent Roth Trilogy books by Andrew Taylor, which like this were also in reverse chronological order. We learn in the first five minutes that Rosie mutilates children. However, this is not the mystery. The mystery is why she does it: what awful things could have happened to her to make this young, intelligent and beautiful woman act this way.
We are taken on a journey into the three most important parts of her past: Rosie in her 30's in busy London; Rosie as a seemingly happy-go- lucky teenager in the idyllic village of Roth, applying for a place at Cambridge and Rosie as a five year old with a terrible secret.
Fallen Angel is superbly put together as is the cast: Charles Dance as the stern, sinisterly cerebral vicar David, Emilia Fox as his daughter 18 year old Rosie and 30 something Angel who has taken her father's characteristics and changed them just slightly and become a monster, Mark Benton as Angel's dim-witted flatmate and Clare Holman the keeper of the family secret who tries to keep sanity and order throughout the three decades of the piece. Sheila Hancock and Peter Capaldi make creditable appearances too.
The plot gives many suggestions as to what makes a murderer: an obsession with Christ's body and blood, parental careerism, lust, personality disorders or simply living with secrets. Make your own decision
One thing is for certain Rosie is far from being a two dimensional villain and this drama left me unable to think about anything else after it had finished. Remarkable. This could not have been better.
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