Acorn Streaming: Dalgliesh & The Madame Blanc Mysteries

Jan 1, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze, TV

by Kathleen Costa

AcornTV is a popular streaming option I have enjoyed for four years, and the membership continues to be a great value: monthly $5.99 or yearly fee special $59.99. The programming is an Anglophiles dream, I can attest, with vintage, classic, and contemporary sit coms, dramas, detective mysteries, and a few travel documentaries I found fascinating. The video and audio quality is excellent, and I can easily access the extensive library anywhere on the AcornTV app or online using my iPhone, iPad, and computer. I’m never without my favorites like VERA, Midsomer Murders, The Good Karma Hospital, and Fresh Fields to name a few. I thoroughly enjoy a good police procedural whether the lead detective is professional with an official warrant card or an amateur with only their desire to see themselves or those close to them vindicated like these two AcornTV Originals: Dalgliesh and The Madame Blanc Mysteries.

Dalgliesh (2021), based on P.D. James’s novels, has been reprised with three telemovies presented in two episodes each, all available now. Although set in the mid 70s, there is a contemporary feel to many of the issues (women’s rights, sexism, discrimination, racism) and along with the quality of the filming it is engaging to today’s audience. The original production aired first in the early eighties with Roy Marsden in the title role and included ten adaptations. Later in 2003 and 2005, Martin Shaw (George Gently Mysteries) reprised the role in two telemovies. Bertie Carvel’s 2021 performance is brilliant and entertaining, yet true to the author’s original vision, and the supporting cast and guest actors do well to emulate the 1970s personalities, social beliefs, and donning the fashion I remember well. Each locale acts as a peripheral character from stark wilderness to urban architecture as background to murder. I greatly enjoyed the series, and since there is an unresolved issue within Dalgliesh’s team, I hope more are in the works.

Scotland Yard’s Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh (Bertie Carvel) is an “odd combination” of policeman and poet. He has a reputation of working “quickly and quietly,” but it is more a meticulous approach to investigations that has made him a success. He also has an introspective creativity that facilitated his becoming a well-known writer with his “Collected Poems-1973.” Unfortunately, Dalgliesh is deeply bruised by the loss of his wife and son a year ago, and although he has returned to duty, it does effect his some interactions. DS Charles Masterson (Jeremy Irvine) is his junior rank, and it’s obvious that their partnership will be strained due to differences in style and perspective which creates some professional conflicts. His presumptuous casual manner with a superior, sexist attitudes, brusque technique with witnesses, and often crude comments are either ignored, overlooked, or chastised by Dalgliesh, but not forgotten. Dalgliesh’s concern about his DS’s abilities and attitude is reflected in the roles he assigns to his DS which is exacerbated when, on Dalgliesh’s invitation and with full confidence, DS Kate Miskin (Carlyss Peer) joins the team. Masterson’s frustration turns professional jealousy and sabotage. Results of his behavior are dire, and although Dalgliesh becomes aware of “truths,” consequences have yet to be determined…season two?

Shroud for a Nightingale—Based on book four (1971), Dalgliesh has been sent to Nightingale House, a nurse training school, to investigate the death of a young student during a training exercise. The victim was not well liked and rumors of blackmail give all the witnesses legitimate motives. Rule violations, theft, and a pregnancy could easily ruin a career. However, after the death of another young woman and the discovery of the library book the victim checked out, the investigation is sent into a shocking direction.

The Black Tower—Based on book five (1975), Dalgliesh is too late to visit an old friend, Fr. Michael, at Toynton Grange, a very small care home; he died of a heart attack. Wilfred Anstey, who owns the facility, is also dealing with a recent suicide of one in his care. Dalgliesh had received a letter from Fr. Michael indicating he needed his help with a “disturbing situation,” so, Dalgliesh decides to stay to uncover what worried his friend…poisoned pen letters, two more deaths, and a few shocking revelations challenge Dalgliesh, but he finds support in the local constabulary.

A Taste for Death—Based on book seven (1986), Dalgliesh’s team is called to St. Mathew’s Church to find the bloody body of Sir Paul Berowne and a homeless vagrant. Sir Paul had recently resigned his MP role due to his link to a tabloid scandal, the death of his part-time housecleaner. The investigation reveals no one is who they seem: a dysfunctional elitist family with more than one secret, a housekeeper’s grudge over her late father’s trial, and suspicions cast on the death of the victim’s brother and first wife. Another murder complicates the investigation, but a young boy who had been at the church when the bodies were found may be a key.

The Madame Blanc Mystery (2021) is a new series created, written, and starring Sally Lyndsay as antiques dealer Jean White. Her antiques business, based in Manchester, is in serious jeopardy with creditors demanding payments. Her partner/husband Rory has made a new acquisition that could save their bottom line, however, on his buying trip in Saint Victoire, France, he is killed in an auto accident, and the very, very expensive ring he was carrying is missing. Jean travels to the south of France to prepare to sell her only asset, a cottage, finalize her husband’s burial, and locate the ring, but she is greeted with a shocking surprise…there’s another Mrs. White. But, worse? Her husband’s death was not an accident and someone, with red heels and manicured red nails, is willing to kill to get the ring.

Saint Victoire is a center to the antiques trade making it ripe for marvelous finds as well as smuggling, fraud, and theft, and helping Jean navigate a foreign country for which she doesn’t speak the language, is Dom Hayes (Steve Edge), ex-pat also from Manchester, along with a trove of friends from the café owner and his 90’s “one hit wonder” wife, quirky wealthy husband and wife, and Gloria the mechanic. Dom and Jean grow as friends as they partner, with the gendarmerie’s help, to find the ring, decipher a book’s inscription, locate a religious relic and a missing Hilma af Klint, and solve a few murders. But, along the way, Jean is a target…the ring or your life!

More, please! I love this new cozy mystery series! Sally Lyndsay’s creative vision and performance is delightful, and although Dom is married to a run away wife, is there a romantic connection in their future? Each individual mystery is clever, engaging, and offers some fascinating, real insights into unique antiques, art, jewels, etc, their history, and the antique trade itself, but the continuing saga of the ring and the “red lacquered” criminal was only partially resolved…the threat still exists!

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also check our our new mystery podcast! A new episode goes up next week.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.


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