I recently discovered the British TV mystery series, Death in Paradise. This is currently one of my favorite TV shows and one of the few that falls well within the bounds of the Cozy Mystery genre.
The show is set in the fictional tropical island of Saint-Marie which is a British possession and filmed on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. The setup of the first episode is that a murder has occurred on the island, and because the murder is that of the local British detective, a new detective from London is brought in to investigate.
The London detective, Detective Inspector Richard Poole, played wonderfully by Ben Miller, is not happy to be sent to the island. His character is very much a “fish out of water” type character, much in the mold of the Doc in Doc Martin. The London detective refuses to adopt the casual island clothing, for example. He goes everywhere in a suit and tie despite the tropical heat (which bothers him quite a bit.) And, for some reason, he always carries a briefcase no matter where he goes. I like that the character is quirky, but not over-the-top zany.
Other characters include a few members of the local police force. The refreshing thing about the additional characters is that they are all intelligent, and they all provide great help to the main detective in gathering the facts for each episode’s mystery. They make a great team both in the stories and with their great chemistry on the screen.
Besides the characters and the settings (which are beautiful, by the way), I really like that the mysteries are well plotted. All the clues that are necessary to solve the crime are actually presented to the viewer. One of my pet peeves is when the writer of a mystery saves one important clue for the detective to disclose during the final scene’s “reveal”. I always feel cheated when the clues remain hidden until after the sleuth has solved the case. One of the fun things I like about good Cozy Mysteries is that they provide a puzzle to solve. Holding back a clue until the end strikes me the same as keeping some of the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle off the table. Frustrating — and not fun!
I have not yet finished watching seasons one and two, but I understand (from Ian) that something big happens during the first episode of season three. Hmmm… I hope it’s something good! I can’t attest to the quality of the later seasons (yet), but I have really enjoyed what I have seen so far. And (again, from Ian) they are currently watching season 4 across the pond, so good news for us!
(Note – this show is not based on the Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone novel Death in Paradise nor is it related to the mystery novel of the same name by Carolyn Hart. Death in Paradise is a popular title among mystery writers!)
P.S. Thank you so much, Ian, for all the Death In Paradise information, including this fun fact:
(Fun fact – Ben Miller found it so hot that whenever his feet were out of shot he took his shoes off, and his shirt was only a front and cuffs).