How can such an idyllic place have so many murders? Like Cabot Cave, looks can be deceiving. In Saint Marie, a beautiful island (but fictitious) in the Caribbean, the local police force is headed by a British police inspector, on loan to assist with the locals with modern police procedures.
The former Inspector Hume; Poole rude awakening; in his hut.
In season one, Richard Poole arrives to investigate the death of the current police inspector, a fellow Brit. Arriving in his typical dark suit, raincoat over the arm and a briefcase, Poole develops an instant dislike for the island, especially the heat, his hut on the beach, and the lack of a good cup of tea. One man’s paradise is another man’s prison.
Poole meets his team; Poole meets his primitive environment.
The premise of the show is a fish-out of water, stuffy Brit, who lands in paradise but hates everything about it. His staff of three officers are cool to this guy and his eccentric personality, although he is able to bring them along to his logic when he discovers what others missed. Poole immediately realizes the lack of modern police resources and his staff’s very laid-back attitudes. It is a very slow-paced, relaxing environment. Poole must improvise his methods to catch the murderer of the inspector.
A second murder; discovery of a clue, or is it?
So, back to the murder. Inspector Hume was found dead in a safe room during a party of one of the island’s affluent residents. The murder is quite complex as Poole uncovers that Hume was having an affair with the wife of the owner of the safe room. The clues point to a person who later is found dead, indicating a suicide, but the various clues don’t really point that direction. Something is amiss. Poole also stumbles across a woman who pretends to be his housekeeper, but she is a mysterious person who was also at the party.
Poole uses old fashioned investigative skills.
The beauty of Death in Paradise is that each murder seems rather impossible and the clues only enhance the mystery. Poole dissects each clue, the suspects and each inconsistency, applying his police training to discover the correctness of the evidence to separate the false clues from the truth of the crime.
The mystery woman’s identity revealed; a surprise for everyone.
The mysterious woman is revealed to actually be an undercover policewoman, who joins the police force since her cover is now exposed. Pool reconstructs the crime to discover that one of his officers is actually the murderer, unhappy that she has been passed over several times to head the police force. She intentionally misdirected the investigation and covered the murder of Hume with a second murder. Talk about a sore loser.
Poole thinks he’s leaving; his unexpected return.
Having solved the crime, Poole is excited to be heading back to London. Unfortunately, he learns that he has been assigned to Saint Marie indefinitely, although the good news is that his lost luggage has arrived.
Debuting in 2011, Death in Paradise was a joint production between British and French producers, and has aired in America on PBS, and available on Netflix, which is where I first saw it. This year, the series concluded its eight season, and has been renewed for at least two more seasons.
Ben Miller played Poole for two full seasons before asking to be let out of his contract to leave the show. The mysterious woman, Camille Bordey, was played by the exquisite Sara Martins for the first four seasons. Poole and Bordey made an exciting duo, sparring over methods and interpretation of clues. He doesn’t volunteer much and has an ongoing challenge with his hut, the resident gecko, and having to explain everything to his staff. Bordey is quite independent, brassy and a deeper talent than Poole gives her credit for, yet there is a slow-growing respect between them.
In seasons three through six, Kris Marshall joined the show as the new inspector, playing Humphrey Goodman, who fell in love with Bordey, although never confessing it, before her character left the show. He departed in season six, to be replaced by Jack Mooney, played by Ardal O’Hanlon, who took the assignment and continues to date.
With the exception of police commissioner Patterson (Don Warrington), all of the main characters have changed, yet the premise of the show remains successfully the same. This is very much an ensemble show, the supporting cast all have their time in sun, as the viewer gets to know them and their aspirations.
The show has a very pleasant vibe, accentuated by lovely island scenery and music. How can you change nearly the entire cast, not once but twice, and keep going? The strength and ongoing success of the show is mainly due to the imaginative writing that keeps audiences guessing and intrigued with each mystery and slight of hand clues. Some critics have called the show formulaic, but it continues to work.