'Dublin Murders' Season 1 review: Sarah Phelps' Starz show meshes murder mystery and childhood trauma perfectly, save for one error in judgment
What we see right from the beginning of 'Dublin Murders', is that our protagonists have some deep, dark secrets that they need to hide to protect their jobs and to protect their own sanity.
Sarah Phelps is known for her adaptation of Agatha Christie's works, including 'The ABC Murders', and 'The Witness for the Prosecution,' which is probably why BBC and Starz trusted her to bring Tana French's polarizing work of crime fiction to TV. For the most part, she has been successful in doing justice to the stories of French with 'Dublin Murder', thanks to generous use of symbolism, smart manipulation of light, and performances from brilliant actors who aid her vision.
One fear we did have upon hearing that the Edgar Award-winning books 'In the Woods' and 'The Likeness' will both be amalgamated into one miniseries was about the logistics of it, especially since each of these investigations, which work as stand-alone books, rely on a different detective from the Dublin Murder Squad to solve the mystery. However, without many wrinkles, this problem was solved in the first season, and yet the transitions between the two storylines are far from seamless.
On the surface, 'Dublin Murders' is the story of two homicide detectives, Rob Reilly (Killian Scott) and Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene), trying to solve the murder of a gifted young ballet dancer, whose body was found in an archaeological dig in the woods, which has a history of bloody murders. 20 years ago, the same woods became the site where a boy was found hugging a tree wearing ripped clothes and shoes covered in another child's blood, screaming bloody murder. And hence, there is a lot of interest in the new case among the townsfolk and the press.
What we see right from the beginning of the series, is that our protagonists have some deep, dark secrets that they need to hide to protect their jobs and to protect their own sanity. Their lives are a long elaborate tale about how childhood traumas can haunt you forever. While Cassie's problems are your quintessential brooding cop-who-doesn't-want-anyone-invading-her-business-because-its-too-painful, Adam's are rooted in real evil. He is oftentimes haunted by them and is jolted back to reality where he is left wondering what is real and what is not, and yet, he also cannot help but respond to those fear-inducing callings
All in all, 'Dublin Murders' is an interesting watch, especially if you want a break from the American procedural dramas, and it may just be because of the change in accents and scenery.
However, the BBC/Starz show is not without its faults, especially when it comes to the flow of storytelling, but frankly, the actors make up for it. If you are about to embark on this thrilling journey, though, beware of the trigger warnings - rape, police brutality, abuse, child endangerment, and honestly, a host of mental health issues that aren't really addressed.
'Dublin Murders' airs every Sunday at 8 pm (EST) on Starz.