Bit by bit, I’ve been catching up with episodes of Lewis that I’ve missed, and the latest is The Point of Vanishing, first shown in April. It’s written by Paul Rutman, who is responsible for the screenplay for the forthcoming Ann Cleeves television drama featuring Vera Stanhope. I gather that Rutman actually lives in Oxford, so he is ideally placed to be able to create the ‘feel’ of the city when writing for Lewis.
In this story, the key characters are a religious fanatic, and his housemate, and a celebrity atheist and his somewhat dysfunctional family. Early on, a man’s murdered corpse is discovered. Once he is identified as Steven Mullin, the religious fanatic, attention focuses on those with a motive to kill him. Heading the list are various members of the atheist’s family, because Mullin was responsible for a car crash that left the atheist’s teenage daughter permanently disabled.
There are plenty of twists and turns, including a pleasing identity switch (I think I am at least as keen on identity switches as a plot device as I am on locked rooms!) The character of Hathaway is developed by revelations of a failed romance, and for once Jenny Seagrove plays a part in which her enduring good looks are irrelevant, and she behaves unpleasantly throughout.
There were a few aspects of the plot that I found hard to swallow, including a birthday party for the disabled girl in which (because of the demands of the story) nobody paid attention to the birthday girl, enabling her to wheel herself off to a disastrous encounter in a maze. Given that US government security was also in attendance at the event, it did seem rather unlikely that the murderer would choose such an environment to commit his next crime. And the motivation of the killer was not quite credible, at least to me. But as ever, the production values were superb, and the quality of the performances meant this provided a pleasurable couple of hours of viewing.