REVIEW Dalgliesh (S1 E6/6)

With the attack on Father Barnes adding to the mystery of the Berowne killing, will the alibis of the victim’s dodgy family start to crack? 

The first part of A Taste For Death, like previous stories in this series, did a very good job of setting up multiple suspects and storylines, without giving any definitive clue as to the motives for the murders in the Paddington church. Now Dalgliesh has to go back over all the evidence and find some holes. 
The first step is to search the church – presumably the attacker of Father Barnes was searching for something he missed during the first killings. (We have a good idea what it was – the button picked up by the truant child Darren). 

But pressuring the ghastly Berowne family leads nowhere initially, with each, again, giving each other alibis for the time of Father Barnes’s killing. What great secret are they protecting? We suspect it’s something to do with family inheritance, either the title or the money – something to do with Berowne’s first marriage, or his wife’s cousin’s maternity clinic. 

Dominic’s account of the drowning of Jeannie Travers starts to break down under Miskin’s questioning, though bigot Masterson reckons he doesn’t have it in him to kill anyone, being a “fully paid-up member of the John Inman club”. Gold-digging Barbara admits to an affair with dodgy doctor Steven – but are any of these motives?

Dalgliesh goes back to steely Lady Lavinia and extracts a new account, involving Barbara’s affair and Berowne’s new will, witnessed by tramp Harry Mack – so she and driver Halliwell were at the church. But did they kill Berowne?

At Berowne’s inquest, little Darren seems to recognise actor Dominic. Meanwhile Kate Miskin questions a nurse, Theresa Nolan (Maeve Smyth) who says that Dominic raped her at Berowne’s house – maybe he’s not a member of the “John Inman club” at all. Did he kill Paul Berowne when the two fell out over the attack? And did he use his makeup skills to disguise himself when he visited the church? Caretaker Miss Wharton recognises a jacket in a photo, and produces the matching button that little Darren put in the collection box. 

Indeed, nasty Dominic tracks down Darren, finding him playing Daleks on the canal towpath, and tries to get the button off him – what happened to the two constables who were meant to be following him? And is he colluding with embittered servant Miss Matlock?

Misdirected by the feckless Masterson, Miskin turns up at the church looking for Darren, but gets knocked out by Dominic – but Dalgliesh is in hot pursuit, and in a tense climax he delivers an emotional speech about his own sense of loss and the value of life, and talks Dominic into giving himself up. 

If we understand Dominic’s motives correctly, he killed Jeannie Travers, Paul Berowne, Harry Mack and Father Barnes, all through a mixture of jealousy, resentment and a desire to maintain the comfortable lifestyle he enjoyed through his sister Barbara. He seems to be a very highly-strung young man. 

Dalgliesh is left pondering his own gloom in the London rain. Dalgliesh makes an interesting comparison with Endeavour, both set in the 70s and featuring gloomy and introverted detectives, culturally set apart from their colleagues. The main difference is that while the Dalgliesh novels were written in the 70s, yet don’t feel particularly obliged to tackle contemporary themes, Endeavour is written from a modern perspective, with an element of nostalgia – an element which has become a bit too prominent in recent episodes, with endless games of ‘spot the pop culture reference’. 

The only specifically 70s element to Dalgliesh, then, is that the lack of mobile phones, the internet and CCTV means that Dalgliesh has to rely on old-fashioned detective work and empathy to puzzle out the solutions to his problems. 

We enjoyed A Taste For Death, but not as much as the previous two stories, perhaps just because all the suspects were so ghastly that we wanted to see them all locked up. Poor inadequate Dominic seemed the least worst of them in many ways. 

Bertie Carvel’s performance as Dalgliesh has been a masterclass in restrained emotion, and we’ve enjoyed the developing tension between Masterson and Miskin. And in this episode we were amused to see the two MG B roadsters from last week making a cameo appearance driving past. 

There’s no news yet of another season for Dalgliesh, but we were impressed by what Acorn TV and Channel 5 have done on an obviously limited budget, and we’d welcome more – it just goes to show that the quiet ones are often the ones to watch out for. 

Chris Jenkins

Episode rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Series rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.





6 Comments Add yours

  1. Colin C says:

    OK I guess, but I can’t quite put my finger on why it just didn’t really work for me. I didn’t really get a sense of the period – it needed more than just scattering a few classic cars around. It almost felt like watching a stage play at times – could be just having to work with a very low budget. Nevertheless I’d be happy to see more of them, maybe with a bit more money to spend.
    PS. Thanks for all the reviews you do, I really enjoy them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Dutton says:

    Spot on review, and comment from Con C. I enjoyed the series but must admit it all seemed a bit shallow, cosy and lacking in atmosphere for me. Even so, liked the acting. I thought the first story the best of the three for plot, production and suspense.Will continue to watch if another series is made.


  3. Jane says:

    It was okay but something lacking and like Colin C said I can’t quite work out what. Like I said before a bit underwhelming and I guess Roy Marsden was a hard act to follow.


  4. Elaine says:

    I think everyone has summed it up-was ok, but something was missing. I do wonder if 2×45 mins wasn’t long enough-perhaps more time was needed to get to know the suspects. If there is another series, I’ll give it a try.


  5. Terry says:

    Love this version of the Dalgliesh series, and I loved Bertie Carvel’s portrayal of DCI Dalgliesh. I thought the mysteries were well written and well-acted. Hoping for a second series. 👍👍


  6. Larry says:

    I think the opinions above about “something was missing” could also be attributed to filming these episodes during COVID restrictions. The statement these seemed like stage plays is accurate. The first two episodes were filmed on self contained locations with limited cast, probably because of COVID. The virus protocols is the culprit here, not the show.


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