Northumbrian and proud of it, DI Vera Stanhope is a force to be reckoned with. Unpredictable and looking like a bag lady, she lives for her work - success her speciality. Loyal DS Joe Ashwork forever keeps a watchful eye - mindful she has health problems, eats erratically and, when alone at home, is prone to drink.
This fine three season collection contains twelve episodes, each of around ninety minutes. All are set evocatively in scenery many may consider beautiful, others bleak. In the cases investigated nothing is cut and dried, some rather complicated and requiring close attention. Exploration of motives often reveals acts of desperation when there seems no alternative, some of the killers deserving sympathy, they victims of circumstances.
Brenda Blethyn triumphs as Vera, the brusqueness concealing humanity and a rare understanding. David Leon is excellent as Joe, ever trying to balance the demands of his job with the needs of his adored wife and young ones. Both in the books and on screen, chemistry between the two works a treat. Acting throughout impresses, even from those who are only briefly around. Enjoyments include Vera's exchanges with colleagues dour Kenny and Billy, the droll pathologist.
I made a mistake starting on the television series so shortly after enjoying five of Ann Cleeves' Vera novels. Four of them were included amongst the adaptations, I falling into the trap of being distracted by changes made (including in one instance a killer's identity). Better by far is the savouring of book and screen versions as separate entities - both with so much to offer, sometimes in different ways.
No extras, alas.
Brooding and fine, the series is rich in atmosphere and enhanced by a splendid central performance.