RogerBW's Blog

Julie Enfield Investigates: The Leaves of the Dead 14 December 2019

1997 police procedural in four parts, by Nick Fisher. Someone is poisoned in the Reading Room of the British Library, and someone else is mummified; Detective Superintendent Julie Enfield investigates.

Again, Imelda Staunton is the reason to listen here; the plot goes along quite well, then (just as last time) takes a completely unheralded sharp turn in the final episode which smacks more of writerly desperation than of something that was intended.

And there's a more general problem, in that someone who's mad enough to be the sort of artistic serial killer featured on cop shows really shouldn't also be able to act sane enough to seem perfectly normal in a group of suspects, in order to keep everything in play. But that's certainly not a problem unique to this series, and the fixes (mostly, keeping the killer off-stage and making the story about tracking them down rather than about picking them from the existing characters) substantially change the shape of the narrative.

While in Terminus Enfield's father was generically ageing, crippled and irascible, here he's much more generally competent, and every episode has cuts to him on a holiday trip… which seems like a bit of a waste of the character, really, even if he does have some significance in the final episode. Particularly since another subplot, Enfield cautiously getting involved with someone met during the case, suffers from cliché: the rules say that it can't end well because the iconic character is a Single Female Tough Cop, so generally this kind of thing ends with the potential partner turning out to be either a victim or a killer. Here he's still around at the end without any particular resolution.

It's all right, and I enjoyed it, but as with Terminus I'd say it's not worth seeking out.

Freely available for the moment via iPlayer.

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