I have finally caught up with a successful, newish American crime series – well, by watching one episode of The Mentalist, anyway. And it was, I think, the first episode of the series proper following the pilot. The starting point is the discovery of a young woman’s murdered body, and the trail soon leads to the restaurant where she worked.
The mentalist of the title is Patrick Jane, played by Simon Baker. He is loosely attached to the California Bureau of Investigation, and uses his observation power sto assist in the detection of crime. The senior cop is Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) and her team includes a young cop who understandably fancies a very attractive colleague. In this episode, the script was taut, although there was no real explanation of what motivated the crazed killers. The pace was brisk, and the characterisation of the detectives sound. Patrick hypnotised a witness into revealing information, whioch was a bit of a cheat, but overall, I enjoyed it and would be very glad to watch the show again in future.
What struck me most forcibly was the fact that the premise of the brilliant, wayward sleuth is essentially an updating of Sherlock Holmes – yet another tribute to the brilliance of Conan Doyle’s creation. We have seen so many of these maverick superstars of detection over the years, but their appeal never seems to fade, and why should it? My favourite in recent years has to be Jonathan Creek, but even he is, really, a modern version of earlier magician detectives such as Clayton Rawson’s The Great Merlini. Truly, with crime fiction, there is nothing new under the sun.