Dublin Murders, BBC One (4 stars)

Dublin Murders, BBC One

Intrigue is piled on in a drama that's both psychologically and thematically complex

'If you go down to the woods today you're sure of a big surprise.' Well, not really. As children we thought we'd find a bunch of furry folk munching sandwiches, but anyone who's ever watched a TV or film thriller knows we're far more likely to happen upon a dead body. So no prizes for guessing what detectives Rob Reilly and Cassie Maddox come across on arrival at Knocknaree woods on the outskirts of Dublin. No plaudits either for spotting, about three minutes in, the big 'reveal' at the end of episode one.

Obvious thriller tropes aside, Dublin Murders is (to be said in your best Irish brogue) a ride. Each episode piles on the intrigue, from who killed the 13-year-old girl laid out sacrificially on an altar, to what happened to two teens who disappeared from the exact same woodland spot 21 years earlier. Dublin Murders' strength is also its weakness at times, drawn as it is from two Tana French novels, In the Woods and The Likeness. Trying to wrestle both books' twists and turns into one coherent narrative must have kept writer Sarah Phelps up at night for months. Once it's all settled into place, on screen and in your head, then the psychology alone is worth watching it for.

Both Reilly and Maddox (played here with suitable complexity by Killian Scott and Sarah Greene) experienced childhood traumas, and it's fascinating to slowly glean what happened to them and the impact it's had on their adult selves. If the setting feels distinctly un-Dublin at times, it's because much of the series was actually filmed in Belfast. But with a full Irish cast, the accents, banter and sense of community all feel wholly authentic. Although ironically, Irishman Scott has an English accent here, for reasons only a plot-spoiler would mention.

Episodes watched: 4 of 8

Dublin Murders starts on BBC One, Monday 14 October, 9pm.

Post a comment