Neil Cross - Luther: The Calling (2 stars)

Neil Cross - Luther: The Calling

(Simon & Schuster)

Luther was a BBC crime drama fronted by Idris Elba (The Wire) that aired last year and earlier this summer. It followed Elba’s tortured police detective through a series of investigations that foregrounded a battles of wits with the perpetrators, and succeeded as a portrayal of the ethics involved in modern policing. Neil Cross – who wrote all the episodes for TV – has now penned this prequel which charts Luther’s journey through a particularly nasty murder case, the repercussions of which chase him throughout the subsequent TV series.

The Calling is very much a tie-in. It reads like a screenplay: jumping from scene to scene without delving into the inner lives of the characters in any depth. The story is deftly concocted – more gruesome than its BBC counterpart and suitably compelling – but isn’t strong enough as a standalone work. Without Elba’s weighty presence (and leavening humour) this incarnation of Luther fails to come to life.

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