After last week’s opening two episodes of Sarah Phelps’ adaptation of two Tana French Dublin Murder Squad novels, we were left to ponder a multi-layered story.
In the present day, we had the murder of 13-year-old Katy Devlin, whose body was found in the middle of some woods, which were the subject of a tug-of-war between a motorway development company and archaeologists. The same spot poor Katy was found in was the very same woodland that three children – Jamie, Peter and Adam – disappeared from 20 years earlier. Only Adam survived.
Adam was sent to England and changed his name to Rob Riley, who was now lead investigator on the Katy Devlin case alongside his partner, Cassie Maddox, who was also hiding a secret – she was involved in some sort og secret identity plot, concerning a ‘Lexie Mangan’.
Another personal connection that links Katy Devlin and incident in the woods 20 years ago? Katy’s dad, Jonathan Devlin, was one of the four suspects in the missing children case. Also part of that gang was Sandra Scully, who now worked at the same ballet school Katy practised at.
Whew. There was a lot to take in, especially when you consider the stories of the three suspects from the original incident were beginning to unfold.
In this third episode, things were uncovered at a beautiful pace, the release of information drip-fed expertly. And even though there was a lot going on, it didn’t feel like there was a lot going on.
Adam and Cassie continued to talk to people – Sandra Scully (unhelpful), Jonathan Devlin (angry) and the chief archaeologist, Mark Hanley, who was spotted at the murder spot dancing naked around a fire and spraying cheap Merlot everywhere. In fact, there was a feel of the horror movie about this episode, as the woods – rapidly becoming a character all of its own – began to give up its ghosts. The chief pathologist was certain she had heard children giggling in the ether as she worked, and Dr Hanley was carrying out his merry dance as some sort of offering to the ‘king’.
There feels as though there might be a slight supernatural element to this story. Quigley had found a note written by one of the investigating officers from the case of the missing children. In it he had that “there is something here that hates us. It is malevolence. Those children were taken as a tide, as a reckoning, to settle an account. You’re never going to find them, this place is laughing at us.”
Listening to all of this was Rob, who seemed extremely quick to ask questions about the case of the missing children all of those years ago, almost randomly so. He asked Sandra Scully, he asked Jonathan Devlin and he asked Mark Hanley, out of the blue, of they had any knowledge of what happened 20 years ago. They looked at him as though he were mad.
And maybe he was.
With his tenacious colleagues looking into the three boys who disappeared, Hanley finding one of the children’s watches on the dig sight, his mother pestering him about telling her side of the story to the press, and the still distraught Alannah, mother of Jaime, was beginning to cast the same aspersions about Adam as she did 20 years ago.
Could Rob/Adam be a villain? Could he have murdered his two friends for reasons we don’t know yet? I go right back to the start – he’s someone you have a hard time liking in the first instance; he seemed cocky and arrogant, and had a belief that by not telling his superiors who he really was, he could control the situation and the investigation. Sociopathic behaviour, right there. Murderous behaviour? We’ll have to wait and see.
What about Cassie and this Lexie business?
We found out in this episode that Lexie was indeed a person, not a former identity of Cassie.
We first met her in the town where the new motorway would extend to, which automatically linked her back to Knocknaree up in Dublin. She was brassy, in the passenger seat of what looked like a gangster, who told her she was to indiscreet, and… looked exactly like Cassie.
A twin perhaps?
This theory was seemingly proved when Cassie was called out of bed in the early morning by Frank, who took her to a murder scene. There, she found the body of Lexie.
But there was one other line from Cassie that grabbed my attention. After meeting Rob’s mum, the two of them sat in the cafe, chuckling at the absurdity of it all: “State of us. The only ones to get out alive and trying to work out why.”
Was she also involved in the original Knocknaree incident?
Oh, the intrigue!