Doc On The Box – Death In Paradise Episode 8.1

Just imagine, you find yourself on the beautiful island of Saint-Marie. Fresh off the boat, you climb aboard the bus, with the back seat all to yourself. A peaceful, if rather warm, journey proceeds, with a brief interruption when a goat gets in the way. But what do you know, but when you get to the depot, someone’s only gone and stabbed you. But none of the passengers apparently went anywhere near you, despite them all having motives to kill you…

Yup, Death In Paradise is back, and as it’s business as usual on the blog with a review of Episode 1. It’s my favourite competition of the year – can, over eight weeks, the finest detective series on the planet outwit the Puzzle Doctor? On past evidence, the answer is yes, usually…

So, to recap, this is Ardal O’Hanlon’s second full series on the show, and he seems to have really settled into the role. He seems much more relaxed in the role this series and the performance, and the show in general, really benefits from it. Josephine Jobert and Tobi Bakare are still on the scene as Florence and J.P. and while Dwayne has departed, for reasons explained in the episode, I was rather surprised to see that I sort of didn’t notice he was gone. Not that I didn’t enjoy Danny John-Jules in the show, I did, but it gave the other characters a chance to shine that little more. And we got to see more Don Warrington, which is always a pleasure. Seriously, someone give Commissioner Patterson a spin-off series…

And before we get to the plot, I think it’s worth mentioning that there were some really nice comedy moments in this episode. While the whole tone felt warm and enjoyable, the scene with J.P and Florence’s new boyfriend was comedy gold, as was the “finding the knife” bit. Yesterday for me was pretty tense and nervy (for reasons that I won’t go into) but this was the perfect medicine.

As was the central plot. Yes, I spotted the who and how (although I missed the beautifully simple clue that confirmed it) but this was a proper impossible crime, a locked bus mystery if you will – there’s another one coming to the blog very soon by the way, but it’s not the same solution as it’s apparently on the top deck. I’m sure the nitpickers will question why everyone on the bus a) had a motive and b) was unknown to the victim, but they clearly haven’t watched the show before. This was a really well constructed mystery and while I doubt the more experienced among us will be fooled, I still felt pretty clever having solved it.

So, a cracking start to the series, possibly the strongest opener to date. It side-stepped some of the more unsatisfying solutions of the past – let’s hope we don’t get too many where at least three people were involved in the murder – and proved the perfect tonic to wash away the winter blues.

And there’s seven more to go…

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