Wednesday 4 November 2009

The Point of Vanishing

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.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I watched this one recently too, Martin, and I agree with you on your points. Especially the birthday party! I thought the same thing.

But I was surprised by the killer's identity. I could *sort of* see where the killer was coming from with motivation, disturbing though it was. But it was a little trumped up to me, too.

And Steven Mullin didn't seem like a convincing religious fanatic to me.

Other than that, I really did enjoy the I do all of the Lewis ones.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Anonymous said...

Martin - I haven't yet had the chance to see that episode. I understand exactly what you and Elizabeth mean, though, about akiing the viewer to believe something as unlikely as a birthday party where no-one pays much attention to the guest of honor. Still, basic premise sounds intriguing.

Martin Edwards said...

I forgot to mention that there is clever and symbolic use of a painting that reflects the title of the episode. Elizabeth, you might be interested to know that my candidate for murderer was the person who committed the act, rather than the person who persuaded him to do it. I agree about Mullin.

Anonymous said...

I spent a very pleasant morning at Blenheim Palace in 2013. I took photographs too. I cannot figure how the birthday party in this episode was filmed there. I don’t recall a maze, and the only area large enough for a lot of cars to park would have been the courtyard which was enclosed by the building, tall fencing, and gate. The building itself had no curved edifice. Could it have been another location?