The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: The Complete Second Series

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: The Complete Second Series

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Tommy Lynley (Nathaniel Parker) is a Supernob. His off duty title is the Earl of Asherton and the family seat, where his mater resides, is one of those 16th century manor houses that should be surrounded by a moat, but has herbaceous borders and well tended lawns instead. Judging by A Suitable Vengeance, one of the four 90-minute films that make up Series 2, the Lynleys are dangerously dysfunctional.

Tommy is called “Sir” by DS Barbara Havers (Sharon Small), his partner against crime, because he is a DI with the Met. If you thought Inspector Morse was intellectually on a different wavelength to his colleagues, Tommy is top drawer chinless, except he doesn’t flaunt his privilege, being adept at solving murders, rather than winning at backgammon in the library before dinner.

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After an accomplished, convoluted and credibly stretched opener (Playing For The Ashes), about the death of a cricketer, enhanced by an electrifying performance from Neve McIntosh as posh totty on the skids, the series goes from good to better. The whodunit elements of these stories, based on Elizabeth George’s novels, are as smart as a Saville Row suit.

The characters evolve naturally, so that Tommy’s infatuation with Helen (Lesley Vickerage), the emotionally prickly police profiler, progresses to an engagement party at Lady A’s (A Suitable Vengeance), during which more bodies pile up than in Agatha Christie’s drawing room, and finally a marriage aboard, out of range of relatives, paparazzi and TV cameras.

Excellent writing and memorable acting from Matthew Goode (A Suitable Vengeance) as Tommy’s junkie brother, Tarek Ramini (Deception On His Mind) as a ruthless Asian entrepreneur and Sophie Okonedo (In The Presence Of The Enemy) as a radical socialist MP and distraught single mother adds to the quality of the series.

At first, Lynley’s manner appears incongruous for a streetwise London detective. Even his relationship with Havers has a them-and-us feel to it, partly because she is so aware of the class difference. She is the linchpin, however, beautifully played by Small, her expressive face contrasting and complimenting Parker’s stiff upper body language. She is so good that when she takes the lead in Deception On His Mind, because Tommy is away on honeymoon, you don’t mind at all. And yet when he pops up half way through unexpectedly you realise how much you have missed him. It is the chemistry between these two, their mutual respect and shared sense of humour that gives this BBC series its undoubted edge.

Reviewed on: 04 Aug 2008
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The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: The Complete Second Series packshot
Four whodunits for the aristocratic DI and his proletarian assistant.

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