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A decent dramatisation but it's all a bit too cosy in the end
on 17 August 2014
Despite being one of her favourites among her novels, Ordeal by Innocence has largely ignored by film and TV adaptations - there was a well-cast film in 1984 rendered all but unwatchable by a hideously inappropriate and very in-your-face score and the story was unsatisfyingly reworked as a Miss Marple story in the 2007 ITV series and given a French TV adaptation in 2009, but that's it - so it's been left to radio to attempt to do it a bit more justice. The story is certainly a good one, with a man emerging from a coma and discovering he is the only alibi for a convicted murderer who died in prison. But by trying to make amends to the man's family, he only reopens old wounds - not to mention the investigation as it becomes obvious that the real killer may be one of the family who are trying to put the crime behind them - and destroys more lives, both figuratively and literally. Unfortunately the execution doesn't always live up to the premise: for all the secrets and resentments uncovered, there's that aura of cosiness to the business of murder that tends to always be the default position for Christie adaptations, and the happy ending for two characters seems a particularly unlikely bit of reassurance for the readers. This BBC radio adaptation isn't able to do much about that, though it does make its hero's single-minded pursuit of the truth despite the consequences for others less than admirable. But while it isn't able to add the genuinely tragic dimension the novel aspires to, it's a well executed production, even if it is one that doesn't resonate after it's over.