Ah, the island of Saint-Marie in the Caribbean – the murder capital of that region, it seems, the place where foreigners (mostly British ones) come to commit cunning murders without reckoning on the fact that Saint-Marie is the place where the UK send their most cunning detectives. First Richard Poole (aka Ben Miller) and now, in his third series, Humphrey Goodman (aka Kris Marshall). Regular readers know that I love this show and I was looking forward to something a little more substantial after the disappointments of the rest of the viewing week.
A novel setting for an impossible crime kicked the series off last night. A diving crew are out at a coral reef. Four divers go underwater together, leaving the team leader on the boat. They surface together only to discover that he has been shot and the boat ransacked. No other boats were in the area, so how did someone break away from the group to commit murder? And why is there a toy soldier on the floor of the cabin?
Robert Thorogood has set himself a high bar, with the recent The Killing Of Polly Carter – a truly outstanding mystery novel – but here we’ve got a small cast of suspects (four) so it can’t be too hard to work it out, can it?
First off, it’s so good to see a show with so much plot packed into it, compared to other mystery shows. Everyone has at least one secret to hide and everything important is resolved by the end of the episode. And there’s still time for some development with the cast, whether its Humphrey’s new boat (which I do hope we see more of), Dwayne and JP’s bonding session in the lock-up or Florence’s… actually, she mainly gets a great little action sequence, but there’s also a nice bit with Humphrey where he demonstrates his faith in her abilities (or possibly his inability to realise that only he has worked out what’s going on). The cast are clearly enjoying themselves and that always makes things fun to watch. Oh, and let’s not forget Don Warrington as Commissioner Patterson, generating the best line as Humphrey speculates on what exactly he does apart from appearing in their office every now and then. And it’s nice to see Dwayne and Humphrey just hanging out together.
Oh, and the mystery? As with most impossible crimes, it’s a variation on an old chestnut, but there was enough variation here to fool me. The bit with the soldier was so simple that it really impressed me. I was sort of looking in the right direction but I do like to keep score with this series. Last series started strongly but ended up being a 4-4 draw. This series… well, it’s off to a good start. 1-0 to Robert Thorogood and company.
So, after a disappointing week, it’s great to see that Death In Paradise is still easily the best of the bunch. Looking forward to the next seven weeks “competition”. Bring it on!