Partners in Crime Review: The Secret Adversary, Part 1

“It’s too early for rampant optimism.”

Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime is another new BBC period drama (I persevere, you see) based on Agatha Christie’s short story collection of the same name. It features Tuppence and Tommy Beresford, a pair of unsuspecting members of the public, who are drawn into a series of mysterious and unfortunate events when they encounter a distressed young woman named Jane Finn on a train. Tuppence, being a reader of mystery novels, is immediately struck by Jane’s plight, and resolves to Investigate.

I enjoyed Partners in Crime very much more than I did Life in Squares, partly because it never tries to be more than it is: a cheerfully unrealistic, joyfully Technicolour fifties romp through a post-war London, full of larger-than-life characters, a pleasant antidote to the grimdarkish thrillers of the Silent Witness variety. (Not that I don’t like Silent Witness, mind.) The star of the show is undoubtedly Jessica Raine, she of Call the Midwife fame, playing the sharp, intelligent Tuppence Beresford with just the right mixture of brisk efficiency and foolhardy intrepidness; David Walliams lags behind her as her hopeless husband Tommy. The story is the purest escapism, full of Clues with a capital C – anonymous tip-offs, bits of paper wedged in improbable places, addresses written on the backs of photographs – a light and cheerful thing which encodes the pleasant fantasy that everything, up to and including a marriage, can be solved by a bit of sleuthing. The world is a solvable puzzle, utterly transparent to the right reader.

And that’s a nice message after a long day at work.

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