REVIEW: Vera (S9 E3/4)

After what must be the most shambolic boat party ever, beauty empire founder Dani Varsey is found floating in the quay. The unkempt Vera, unsurprisingly, isn’t familiar with Varsey’s…

Dani seems to have been strangled before going into the drink, as unsympathetic Donahue (Paul Kaye) points out. And when Vera visits Dani’s flat, it’s been inexpertly turned over.

Has unkempt boat captain Eddie (Gordon Kennedy) been involved in burgling guests’ homes while they’re empty, and what is the function of the mysterious clamps on the hull of his boat for? Does dodgy businessman Richard (Robert James-Collier) know about his employee Eddie’s smuggling plan?

Or does coastguard Gayle (Esther Hall) know more than she’s letting on about how the body got into the water?

Other suspects include bullying boyfriend Nial (Russ Bain), shop manager Megan (Natalie Gumede, who has previous as a nutjob in Coronation Street), and father Ross (Patrick Baladi, always a baddie, and thus perhaps too obvious).

More likely it’s one of the three witches behind the company, Sadie (Sonita Henry), Paula (Elizabeth Berrington) and Lisa (Shivani Ghai).

Aidan’s business studies degree comes in handy when he figures out how much money is tied up in the company, though it’s a surprise that Vera knows about Botox treatment – “just what we need to reverse industrial decline”, she deadpans.

When Vera figures out that the body could have been stuck under the boat long before being found, the search for the crime scene turns to a hotel, where blood and hair are found. This is a bit of a disappointing turn-up; we thought the mystery was going to be about how the murder took place on the boat without anyone noticing, but evidently not.

A witness suggests Dani was investigating busines front addresses, and there are drone shots a-plenty as her handbag turns up at the Tees Barrage. Meanwhile a waitress suggests that Dani’s dad Ross was a bit too hands-on, as confirmed by shop manager Megan – was Dani  tracking pay-offs to offended employees, and did Ross fight with Dani over his tendencies?

A bit more digging leads Vera to conclude that what Dani was onto was actually a case of fraud involving fictional employees and inflated payments. But who was behind it?

Turns out it’s financial manager Paula, but the money’s not in her accounts – so whose money-laundering scheme is she fronting?  Fingerprints in her flat link Paula to another crime where a restaurateur was murdered. Does Paula know who it was?

Vera rather unfairly pressures Paula into thinking her life might be in danger if she doesn’t co-operate, and eventually, the link is made to dodgy businessman Richard. Aidan catches him at the airport, and Vera pens him in with mobile phone data and fingerprint evidence linking him to the murders of the restaurateur.

It’s all a bit unconvincing; a sociopath that confident wouldn’t have been so afraid of his previous crimes being exposed that he would kill again to cover them up.

Vera’s brush with the beauty industry ends up with her buying herself a new coat – mind you, it’s exactly the same as her old one – and with a little lecture about how victims of sexual harassment are brave coming forward.

Well, we said Patrick Baladi always played baddies – remember his recent turn in No Offence? – but just for once, he didn’t turn out to be the murderer, just a touchy-feely Weinstein type. No, it was Robert James-Collier, the baddie in Downton Abbey, who actually dunnit, not surprising when his character fit the usual profile of appearing towards the start then being discarded until ten minutes from the end. So the butler did do it (well, the under-butler, to be exact).

Unusually, Vera rubbed shoulders with the sophisticated and well-heeled in this episode, though of course, they turned out to have all the problems of her usual down-at-heel customers. Scruffy she may be herself, but she sees through superficialities to the heart of the matter, whether it’s family loyalty, jealousy, or the good old root of all evil, the love of money.

Chris Jenkins



3 Comments Add yours

  1. Andy D says:

    Another enjoyable episode tonight. Bit flat on the landing but kept me entertained over my cocoa. After County lines last week and vague Weinstein style dirty deeds this week, anybody would think the scriptwriters have read a newspaper in the past year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom says:

    Forgive me for being pedantic: Patrick Baladi played Dani’s brother-in-law – married to her sister Lisa – not her father.


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