The first series of Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn, came to an end tonight with an adaptation of The Crow Trap by Stephen Brady. The story opens with the murder of a woman who is resisting an attempt to build a new quarry in the beautiful Northumberland countryside, and it soon becomes clear that a mystery from the past is entwined with the puzzle of the present.
This was a well-structured episode, and a suitable finale for what has been a successful first series. Now that the characters and setting are established, the way is clear for the scriptwriters to introduce the variations of tone and pace that will ensure Vera ranks along with Lewis as the leading detective drama for years to come.
A highlight of Crimefest, which opens in Bristol on Thursday, will be an interview featuring Ann Cleeves and TV writer Paul Rutman, discussing Vera. I'm looking forward to this, as well as to Crimefest as a whole. I'll be moderating two panels, including one on Forgotten Authors.
This time last year I went to Crimefest at a point when I was rather down in the dumps, and it really cheered me up. I was due to appear in the Mastermind quiz, and really wasn't in the mood for it, but all was well in the end. And the fact that I was able to put other concerns aside and focus on the quiz itself gave me a good deal of heart in the weeks that followed. So I do recall Crimefset 2010 with special appreciation, and I'm going to enjoy this year's event in a lighter frame of mind. But I'm glad I don't have to do Mastermind again!