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This three-part, 1983 drama remains an honorable and largely captivating effort to adapt the unique structure of a P.D. James mystery novel to television. Despite bizarre production values--including intense lighting (presumably to accommodate the all-video shoot) and a near-absence of tone that often makes good actors look as if they're knocking about between rehearsals--the show holds up where it counts.
James's extensive, pre-murder set-up survives a script translation, and the terrific cast infuses urgency into the story of a forensic scientist (Geoffrey Palmer) bludgeoned to death by any one of many suspects: among them a hostile ex-lover (Meg Davies), her brother and the victim's boss (Barry Foster), and an angry cousin (Brenda Blethyn) living as "a friend" with the deceased's ex-wife. So many possibilities, and the rather dour but thorough Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgliesh (Roy Marsden), burdened by the recent death of his wife, sifts through them all with deceptive impartiality and quiet self-disapprobation. --Tom Keogh
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