The third and final episode of ITV’s serial Murderland, by David Pirie, was much meatier than last week’s. We finally learned the explanation for the murder of a single mum and part-time prostitute Sally, whose daughter Carrie, years later, is determined to solve the mystery so that she can get on with the rest of her life.
As part of her detective work, Carrie decided to start working at Cleo’s, the massage parlour where her mother had plied her trade, and this was one of several plot developments that tested my ability to suspend disbelief. The behaviour of a number of shifty characters associated with Cleo’s verged on the improbable – but at least this enabled Carrie to discover what had happened.
The investigation of cold cases fascinates me – as you might expect from Hannah Scarlett’s work in the Lake District Mysteries – and Murderland had plenty going for it. Above all, the acting was first rate. Robbie Coltrane put in a superb performance as Hain the discredited detective who loved Sally, while Carrie past and present was splendidly portrayed by Bel Powley and Amanda Hale respectively.
Watchable though the story was, however, I felt that the detail of the plot didn’t live up to the potential of the basic premise. The suspects other than Hain (who was obviously innocent) were thinly characterised, and the behaviour of the culprit, when unmasked, seemed to me to be unconvincing. Even though his actions did allow for a poignant conclusion to the story, I struggled to believe that particular individual would have acted in the way he did, given how, over many years, he'd successfully got away with murder.