TV has produced many dramas about missing children: The Missing, Broadchurch, Happy Valley, Baptiste, Stranger Things, Top of the Lake, The Cry to name a few.
They are all compelling in their own way and while we love a good detective story, what’s the point of difference?
In case of Crimewritten by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting, Dirt), is potentially the historical setting of Edinburgh.
Inspector Ray Lennox (Dougray Scott) is already battling his own demons when a 13-year-old girl goes missing on her way to school.
With his partner retiring (isn’t it always right?) he’s teamed up with DS Amanda Drummond (Joanna Vanderham) to solve the crime. She is one of the few women in a senior role at this very male club, in a symbolic move by Chief Superintendent Bob Toal (Ken Stott) which leads to a tough time for abrasive DI Dougie Gillman (Jamie Sives).
Ray is also a recovering alcoholic, prone to fits of rage, pangs of anxiety, and outbursts. He is also convinced that the student has been kidnapped by a serial killer “Mr Confectioner”. Ray is on a mission to prove her hunch about him right by keeping his temper in check, all at the same time he’s dating Trudi (Angela Griffin).
Along the way expect a barrage of possible suspects and false misdirections, one of which is too formulaic in its gay depiction, all against the bleak and cold backdrop of working class Edinburgh. The setting is undoubtedly a character in itself – extra points to the director of locations and cinematographer for getting the most out of it.
Dougray Scott, who has been in the headlines himself Batwoman, is as solid as the tired, determined, trenchcoat-wearing Lennox. He’s also one of many heavily accented cast here (Britbox has subtitles?). Joanna Vanderham is restrained as DS Amanda Drummond, with sobering advice and just the right touch to turn up the heat as required.
There is not much lightness in this story so serious, unlike Rag doll which includes dark humor among its criminal elements. But Irvine Welsh crafted his story as a tug-of-war in which the redemption of his flawed hero is in a constant battle to resolve an immediate crisis.
Hopefully they both win before the final credits roll.
Crime screens Thursday on BritBox.