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DVD Review: Above Suspicion, Set 1

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Told from the point of view of young detective constable Anna Travis (Kelly Reilly, Sherlock Holmes), Above Suspicion, Set 1
is a gripping detective series, from Lynda La Plante, the creator of Prime Suspect, and based on her popular novels. Starring Reilly and Ciarán Hinds (Rome, There Will Be Blood) as her tough and ambitious boss, Detective Chief Inspector James Langton, Set 1 includes the first two stories in the ongoing British crime series, “Above Suspicion” and “The Red Dahlia.”

The two discs have a running time of approx. 254 min., with SDH subtitles available. Bonus material includes scene selection, behind-the-scenes segments for both mysteries, cast biographies, and photo galleries.

Travis, daughter of a deceased cop, is assigned to Langton’s squad, but she at first doesn’t fit in at all. She passes out during an autopsy, and keeps wearing the same suit to work (causing her female co-workers to snigger behind her back). To keep her out of his way, Langton sends her on what he thinks are wild goose chases, to interview distant witnesses in his current murder case, but she keeps coming back with useful information. She is intuitive, able to imagine and picture the victims and their murders, and has good interview skills.

[Travis goes undercover with suspect Daniels]

The first mystery, in two parts, “Above Suspicion,” originally aired in 2009. Langton and his squad are investigating a series of brutal murders of women that have taken place over a twelve-year period. Langton thinks he may have a serial killer, and the investigation soon centers on the death of one of the victims, a prostitute and her son, Alan Daniels (Jason Durr), who grew up to become a successful and popular actor. To complicate matters, the charming Daniels shows interest in Travis, inviting her on a date to join him at the ballet. Langton may have a gruff manner, but he sees his new charge’s potential, and lets her go undercover to learn more about Daniels.

“His ego is such that he will believe he is is above suspicion and he may let something slip.”

The second mystery, “The Red Dahlia,” is in three parts and originally aired in 2010. The body of a young woman is found; murdered, mutilated, and drained of blood; in the same manner as the infamous unsolved 1947 Los Angeles Black Dahlia murder case. American viewers may recognize Holliday Grainger (Lucrezia on The Borgias) who plays Sharon Bilkin, the first victim’s flat mate, and Hannah Murray, as Emily Wickenham (Gilly on Game of Thrones.) 

Travis is able to make it through a post-mortem examination without fainting or becoming upset — until the second victim. The bodies begin to pile up, and Travis and Langton are desperate to try and find the copycat killer. A suspect begins to emerge, another person who by his place in society may consider himself “above suspicion.” 

[Langton and Travis work late on a case]

Langton becomes concerned with Travis’s growing friendship with reporter Richard Reynolds (Edward MacLiam). His concerns that her getting closer to the journalist may lead to potential information leaks are valid — but he is also taking a growing interest in her personal life.

The acting and drama are first-rate, but audiences should be warned that the crimes depicted are gruesome, and there are some scenes that include graphic violence, extremely realistically rendered dead bodies, as well as mature themes and language. Travis and Langton and their investigative team are all wonderful characters. Fans of good crime drama should enjoy Above Suspicion and eagerly await the U.S. release of subsequent series.

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