Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Mystery of the British Mystery

A few months ago, I picked up a DVD collection at my bookbus (I live out in the boonies, so the bookmobile is my library) called Blue Murder. It was one of those impulse grabs while waiting in line, and it was season one, so it seemed like a good idea.

Was it ever! I started watching, and I swear, this British mystery series is like chocolate after a bad day. The lead character is Janine Lewis, the boss at Manchester's murder squad. She's a single mother of three, has a busy job, and jells at everyone when things don't go so well. I love her.

And then there's the Brit mystery factor. The cases are complex, you can't always figure out the dunit by the way actors are placed (like in most U.S. series), and the best part: the people feel real. Janine doesn't look like a model, but she's a hero (or my hero anyway) all the same.

So my sad addiction (I'm on season four now) has got me thinking: what makes the British mystery better? Is it because it's different, or is there more to it? Are these series really better?

I don't know. All I know is that season five is waiting after this set, which is just splendid.


  1. I don't know for sure, but I agree with you. Poe may be credited with writing the first modern murder mystery, but then Conan Doyle came along and perfected it. We on this side of the pond have been playing catch-up ever since.

    The British don't seem to have a problem with writing a flawed and layered hero (Holmes, anyone?). And when they bring them to television or the big screen, they tend to be played by normal looking actors.

    I've read a lot of cozy mysteries in the past couple years. British authors consistently do it better.

  2. So many things. 1) the people look like real people 2)there is more atmosphere 3) the dialog sounds like the way people talk 4) thet are not driven by the need to create romances 5) less cliches. 6) they use real novels and not plot by committee 7) it's not here.
    Having said that, they do not make so many good comedies. They are often corny, creaky and cliched. (Lived in Manchester for a year)

  3. You summed it up perfectly, Patricia. And their comedies are pretty lame.

    Good to see you're back, DB!