Christmas in Paradise. As Saint Marie prepares from Christmas, complete with Commissioner Patterson in full Santa costume, trouble is brewing for DI Neville Parker. Following on from his attempt to tell Florence how he feels about her at the end of the series, he is still trying, although Florence leaving the island for Christmas to be with her family doesn’t help. But before Neville can head home to Manchester to be with his family, death strikes the island.
Philip Carlton, a wealthy shipping magnate, is found dead on the beach near his house, apparently a suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Everything points to suicide apart from two things – why had the body been moved after death, and, moreover, why had a Christmas card, with the message “PHILIP CARLTON WAS MURDERED” been sent to a complete stranger in the UK? The team is short-handed, but luckily a familiar face is back on the island…
Well, that was interesting, a real mixture of good and not-so-good. Regular readers know that I’m a massive fan of Death In Paradise, so I’m always going to enjoy it. I love the characters – despite Josephine Jobert being missing for most of the episode, there is progress in her and Neville’s story and, old romantic that I am, I do hope this all ends positively. The return of Danny John-Jules was handled well – I thought he dealt with Dwayne’s problems well – and his temporary partnership with Marlon aka Tahj Miles worked well in moving Marlon forward. Oh, and there is a lot of Don Warrington in the episode which is always a good thing.
However, the mystery was one of the weakest in the series to date. It’s not an impossible crime by any means, unlike most of the cases in the show, the only question being the mysterious Christmas card. Oh, sorry, there is one impossibility which no one ever addresses, namely how did the card get from Saint-Marie to the UK so quickly with apparently a normal stamp on the envelope???
There was so little in the way of clueing, even Neville’s revelation that leads to the truth comes from the tiniest thing, but given that we already know the body was moved, it shouldn’t inspire a breakthrough. There’s a forced halfway development (presumably for when it’s cut into two episodes) that went absolutely nowhere, and one character could have sorted it out a lot quicker if only they didn’t withhold information for basically no reason apart from being unhelpful. Actually, make that two characters as the one who was integrally involved in the card didn’t really have a good reason to keep quiet.
On the plus side, the guest cast, especially Juliet Stevenson and Matthew Baynton make a good fist of it, and, as I said, I did enjoy the episode, but let’s hope that the new series, starting in January, goes back to the plot structure that we are used to.