The Long Call [3/10]

Brilliant veteran mystery author Ann Cleeves has been well served on the screen, with both her Vera and Shetland series spawning multiple sparkling viewing seasons (my accolades for the most recent Shetland seasons can be found here and here). And her most recent fictional creation, DI Matthew Venn in Devon, is splendid on the page (again, I praise the first two books in the series here and here). “The Long Call” faithfully reproduces the first Venn book over four episodes and some of the typical, admirable aspects of an Ann Cleeves mystery are on display here, namely the sumptuous visual imagery and the baffling mystery. But disappointment soon sets in. The main characters, with the exception of nuanced Jonathan, Venn’s husband (portrayed well by Declan Bennett) are strangely cast and woodenly acted. The intricate plot is forever leaking out the sides and rushing through revelations, so that tension is non-existent and the classic crime fiction “reveals” come across as lame. The ending is a limp mess. Read the book version of The Long Call and skip the cinematic series.

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