Tuesday 4 May 2010

Lewis: The Dead of Winter - review

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.


Anonymous said...

Martin - Thanks for this review. Your review is, as ever, thoughtful, detailed and insightful. However, I have to say that what really kept my attention was the possibility of a Harry Devlin series. I truly hope that happens.

Bernadette said...

I look forward to us seeing this one on TV here in Oz soon. Apart from enjoying the series generally I think Laurence Fox is excellent and I think his character adds a good element to the story.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I do think too many series succeed regardless of plot instead of because of plot. I think it's because they don't use original material enough-material where a writer has spent a year or more working it out. Atmosphere and acting can only go so far. The best Morse episodes were the ones based on Dexter's novels not the ones based on an "idea."

Jo said...

I have watched all the Lewis' to date and agree with your review of the excellent way that it is told. However, this episode left me with an unanswered question: what about the farmer? Did he commit suicide or was he murdered? Both my mum and boss have wondered this too.
Can anyone solve this mystery?

aguja said...

I would like to see a Harry Devlin series, too. Having discovered your blog and your books, I am enjoying reading the series. Thank you for writing.

Dorte H said...

I keep my fingers crossed, hoping we will get the new episodes soon!