Get ready for a second caseload of complex crimes and quirky criminals deftly handled by Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn (Patrick Malahide, The Singing Detective). A hard-working Scotland Yard detective, Alleyn's aristocratic breeding allows him to blend into the high-society realm in which these crimes occur. In stories based on the classic mystery novels by Ngaio Marsh, Alleyn traps a murderous blackmailer stalking London's debutante set, attends a lethal luncheon at the home of a gracious host, uncovers the killer of a World War I veteran's entrusted confidant, and witnesses heinous exploits on a picturesque Scottish island. The chief inspector gets expert assistance from his partner, Detective Inspector Fox (William Simons, Sergeant Cribb), and his insightful lady friend, artist Agatha Troy (Belinda Lang, To Serve Them All My Days). Guest stars include Diana Quick, John Gielgud, Geoffrey Palmer, Derek Benfield, Margaret Tyzack, and Tom Wilkinson.
Anyone familiar with the thin, cruel features of Patrick Malahide from The Singing Detective (or any other movie in which he so vividly plays someone venomous or unpleasant) will have some trouble adjusting to his role as the hero of Inspector Alleyn Mysteries, based on the popular mysteries by Ngaio Marsh. But Malahide, a keenly intelligent actor, will win you over. As the gentleman turned police inspector Roderick Alleyn, Malahide is genteel and almost dandyish, but his ferocious intensity underlies his gracious manner and gives it teeth. Though Marsh's mysteries are whodunits, they play out more like police procedurals, with Alleyn and his right-hand man Inspector Fox (William Simons, Heartbeat) doggedly piecing together the clues.
The second set of Inspector Alleyn Mysteries includes the final episode of the first series, Death in a White Tie--in which Alleyn asks a good friend to assist an investigation, leading to that friend's death and Alleyn's fierce pursuit of his killer among the upper crust--as well as the three episodes of the second series. Hand in Glove features Sir John Gielgud (Prospero's Books) as a stuffy aristocrat caught up in a plot featuring forged paintings and a letter of condolence sent before the murder is even discovered. Dead Water sends Alleyn and his beloved Agatha Troy (Belinda Lang, To Serve Them All My Days) to a Scottish island where a waterfall is believed to have healing powers--at least, until a dead body turns up in it. But the strongest of them all is Scales of Justice, which coolly observes British social schisms as Alleyn tries to unravel a mystery featuring stray cats, stray arrows, Nazi skullduggery, and a very large trout. Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom) gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as a petty, lecherous creep who values his family's name more than a woman's heart. A satisfying collection for any mystery fan. --Bret Fetzer