Tuesday 3 November 2009

Murderland concluded

The third and final episode of ITV’s serial Murderland, by David Pirie, was much meatier than last week’s. We finally learned the explanation for the murder of a single mum and part-time prostitute Sally, whose daughter Carrie, years later, is determined to solve the mystery so that she can get on with the rest of her life.

As part of her detective work, Carrie decided to start working at Cleo’s, the massage parlour where her mother had plied her trade, and this was one of several plot developments that tested my ability to suspend disbelief. The behaviour of a number of shifty characters associated with Cleo’s verged on the improbable – but at least this enabled Carrie to discover what had happened.

The investigation of cold cases fascinates me – as you might expect from Hannah Scarlett’s work in the Lake District Mysteries – and Murderland had plenty going for it. Above all, the acting was first rate. Robbie Coltrane put in a superb performance as Hain the discredited detective who loved Sally, while Carrie past and present was splendidly portrayed by Bel Powley and Amanda Hale respectively.

Watchable though the story was, however, I felt that the detail of the plot didn’t live up to the potential of the basic premise. The suspects other than Hain (who was obviously innocent) were thinly characterised, and the behaviour of the culprit, when unmasked, seemed to me to be unconvincing. Even though his actions did allow for a poignant conclusion to the story, I struggled to believe that particular individual would have acted in the way he did, given how, over many years, he'd successfully got away with murder.


Anonymous said...

Martin - Like you, I like best those mysteries where characters behave in believable ways. I always feel a bit disappointed when the characters or plot stretch my sense of disbelief too far. It sounds like, overall, it's a good series, though.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

That's too bad. It shouldn't have been too hard to make the suspects more well-rounded and make the murderer's reaction more realistic. They should have consulted us! :)

I love cold cases, too. Very interesting to read.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Martin Edwards said...

Yes, I felt frustrated that a good show could have been truly memorable. But there was too much focus on the two main characters and the expense of the rest of them.

BooksPlease said...

I watched this too. I think the idea was to show the story through different viewpoints and to some extent that worked but it was a good job they spread it over three weeks, as it was so repetitive. The best thing about it was the acting, in particular I thought Robbie Coltrane and Bel Powley as the young Carrie were very good.