Top positive review
354 people found this helpful
Almost too thrilling, and wonderful period details
on December 13, 2012
I was especially interested in The Bletchley Circle because my mother was a code breaker for the US counterpart. Unlike the British protagonists, who for security reasons are required to tell everyone (even their husbands) that they did only "clerical work" during the war, my mother was allowed to state her occupation, although without many details. She did convey to me the intellectual challenges, the excitement, the camaraderie, and the feeling of making a valuable contribution that pervaded the large room where the code breakers worked long hours, just as in this movie. Like the protagonist Susan, my mother was extremely good at anagrams, crosswords, and other puzzles, but complained that the vast majority of those published were not hard enough. She also loved to read murder mysteries.
However, my mother returned to her academic career, whereas Susan has dutifully become a housewife. By 1952, Susan loves her husband and her two small children, she does her best, but she's bored. She becomes obsessed with a serial killer whose murders of young women are regularly reported in the newspapers. She tries to determine the killer's schedule, his geographic patterns as he moves around the country, his modus operandi, and his motives. The police have arrested a different man every time, and she's sure those suspects were framed by the real killer. Susan cannot solve the mystery alone, so she recruits her three closest colleagues from Bletchley: Millie, Lucy, and Jean. Jean's strength is research (she's now a librarian), Lucy has an eidetic memory, and Millie is tough and slightly shady, meaning she buys and sells things, including handguns, on the black market.
In some ways this is a typical thriller. The women discover the killer's identity, but are frustrated by Scotland Yard's refusal to listen to female amateurs. Susan takes the lead, becoming the most visible person in the group. As she gets closer to the killer, he gets closer to her, menacing not only Susan but her family. Considering that Susan is not only brilliant but normally sensible, her at times reckless behavior seems improbable. However, the killer is the most challenging intellectual opponent Susan has had for seven years. The conflict between her role as female and housewife, versus her independence and her intellectual needs, is underscored by her husband's periodic commands to stop what she's doing "whatever it is."
I don't know whether the team of female detectives will return for a second season, but I certainly hope so. My mother would have loved this series too.