Sunday, November 19, 2023

Queens of Mystery (TV)


Queens of Mystery
Created by Julian Unthank 
 Julie Graham, Sarah Woodward, Siobhan Redmond, Olivia Vinall, Florence Hall, Martin Trenaman, Andrew Leung, Michael Elcock, Juliet Stevenson
IMDB Entry

I've been enjoying British cozy mysteries lately, where the murders have a minimum of blood, and everyone is so polite to each other. That's when I decided to try Queens of Mystery.  It turned out to be delightful.

In the small British town of Wildemarsh, Matilda "Mattie" Stone (Olivia Vinall, Florence Hall) is assigned as a detective in the local police force.  Mattie grew up in Wildemarsh, raised by her three aunts Cat (Julie Graham), Beth (Sarah Woodward), and Jane (Siobhan Redmond), who are all mystery writers. And when there's a murder, the three can't resist investigating, despite the warnings of Police Inspector Derek Thorne (Martin Trenaman) to stay away.  Of course, they don't, and end up supplying information to Mattie so she can figure out the murderer.

But the tone of the series is different from most. That mostly comes from the narration of Juliet Stevenson, who wryly comments on the action and even shows the secrets of some of the characters. She is very reminiscent of the narrator in Pushing Daisies. The show has the same sense of whimsey and, indeed some of the narrative quirks of that show.

There are also several subplots throughout the series. The big one is Mattie trying to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her mother. Hints and clues are found, but her way is always blocked, usually by a deliberate effort.  And where does that raven fit in?

Mattie also has a crush on the handsome Medical Examiner Dr. Daniel Lynch (Andres Leung), which keeps getting thwarted. At the same time, Police Constable Terry Foster (Michael Elcock) feels the same way about Mattie, though he keeps it secret. And Inspector Thorne is infatuated with Jane, and also keeps it under wraps.**

There are two women playing Mattie; Olivia Vinall was unavailable for the second series, so Florence Hall took her place.  The two women look alike enough so that you have to know about it to realize what happens. Mattie is a great character, a typical detective type, but one with issues due to the main mystery in her own life.

Julie Graham is especially memorable as Cat Stone: she writes and illustrates graphic novels, rides a motorcycle, was in a rock band, and had romances with other women.  

Two series were filmed, but the main mystery of Mattie's mother was not resolved. I hope there's another one soon.


*Indeed, some of her narration clearly is influenced by it

**The unrequited romances are OK, but have the potential to be tedious.

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