The Dead of Winter kicked off the new series of Lewis on Sunday evening, and it was a very good episode, written (appropriately enough) by Russell Lewis, a highly experienced script writer. He was once mooted as a potential writer for a series based on my Harry Devlin novels; it’s my loss that this never came to pass.
The Dead of Winter was in the same mould as some of the best episodes of Inspector Morse, making the most of the Oxford setting, and a grand country house. Quintessential Englishness, if you like. The story was satisfyingly convoluted, too. With Lewis, as with so many good detective stories, sometimes the plot is rather unlikely when you stop to think it all through. But no matter – the key issue is the conviction with which the tale is told. And this one was told extremely well.
An academic is found murdered on an Oxford tour bus, but it soon becomes apparent that the deed was done elsewhere – in a church on the estate of a grand house where Lewis’s sidekick Hathaway grew up. Hathaway is a central figure in the story, and Laurence Fox’s performance was, I thought, compelling.
The rest of the cast was, as usual, excellent. Richard Johnson was splendid as a louche elderly aristocrat, while Nathaniel Parker was good as the lover of Johnson’s glamorous wife, played by Juliet Aubrey. Camilla Arfwedson, whom I haven’t come across elsewhere, was suitably seductive as love interest for Hathaway. And Clare Holman continues to make the most of a limited role as a pathologist who sometimes acts as Kevin Whately’s confidante.
All in all, first class light entertainment. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.