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VERA, SET 2
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BRENDA BLETHYN is Vera Stanhope, a sharp detective with a messy life "Blethyn is wonderful." —The Times (U.K.) "A first-rate mystery series" —Library Journal "Captivating" —Library Bookwatch "Classy crime drama" —The Daily Telegraph (U.K.) Two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn (Pride & Prejudice, Secrets & Lies) returns as Vera Stanhope—a police detective with a disheveled exterior, a sharp tongue, and an uncanny ability to solve crimes. Tough, dedicated, and more than a little irreverent, DCI Stanhope is assisted by her long-suffering sergeant, Joe Ashworth (David Leon, RocknRolla); DC Kenny Lockhart (Jon Morrison, High Times); and forensic pathologist Billy Cartwright (Paul Ritter, The Eagle). Inspired by Ann Cleeves’s bestselling mysteries, Vera is set in the Northumberland of the original books. In four new feature-length dramas, Stanhope delves into a world of shadows and suppressed passions where everyone has something to hide. Guest stars include Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones), Julie Graham (Bonekickers), Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey), and Judy Parfitt (Girl with a Pearl Earring).
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Top Customer Reviews
With incredible acting talent, the marvelous Brenda Blethyn is amazing as Vera, she and the rest of the talented crew authentically bring alive the mystery novels of Ann Cleves. David Leon is excellent as Detective Sergeant Joe Ashworth, his character suffers Vera's dark moods with relatively calm equanimity. The series is further enlivened by a great cast. Wunmi Mosaku is wonderful as smart Detective Constable Holly Lawson, who finally submits her resignation after being browbeaten by Vera one too many times. Jon Morrison plays long-suffering Detective Constable Kenny Lockhart, Cush Jumbo is Detective Constable Bethany Whelan, Paul Ritter is great as the creepy Pathologist Billy Cartwright, and Sonya Cassidy perfectly depicts Sergeant Joe Ashworth's long-suffering wife, Celine Ashworth. A slew of fine guest-stars include: Ron Cook, Penny Downie, Julie Graham, Phyllis Logan, John McArdle, Nina Sosanya, and Emily Woof.
The best mysteries transcend the genre to encompass a wide range of life-issues, "Vera" explores this complexity beautifully. The four episodes include: "The Ghost Position," "Silent Voices," "Sandancers," and "A Certain Samaritan." Vera's personal demons remain unresolved. These cases unearth old secrets about a previous colleague's disturbing private life, the British army's wall of silence involving tragic losses in Afghanistan, the damage to a family caused by addiction, and secrets about Vera's past that threaten to disrupt whatever hard-won equilibrium she has gained. Please note: subtitles are helpfully provided.
The Ghost Position
DCI Vera Stanhope's prior colleague, Sergeant Stuart Macken, is badly burned while rescuing his daughter after his home is fire-bombed in an arson attack. Poor Vera goes to hospital to visit her old friend, and whist she innocently tries to buy him some coffee, he suddenly limps to a hospital balcony and commits suicide. In the same hospital where he ends his life, his daughter fights for life. Vera's investigation points to multiple suspects, including: a protester and the protestor's pregnant girlfriend, a coworker Macken had an affair with, and his daughter's smug stepfather. Even in hospital recuperating from her critical injuries, Macken's daughter isn't safe, and an attempt is made on her life.
A vital, strong swimmer is brutally murdered during one of her "wild" outdoor swims, leaving her daughter unstrung by grief. The investigation reveals that the victim was a social service worker who'd been involved in a terrible, shocking case involving the death of a child who drowned in a bath. Vera and Joe locate another social worker whose life was ruined by the notoriety of the early case; she was blamed for not catching that the child was at-risk. It appears that there are no safe refuges, even a local gym, when Vera finds one of the suspects dead. Meanwhile, Sergeant Joe Ashworth continues to struggle balancing work and his home-life.
Secrets, revenge, and the war Afghanistan are elements leading to the murder of Staff Sergeant Deverson. He was a specialist in a bomb disposal unit, whose second-in-command, Ollie, had been killed by an improvised explosive device. An army bureaucrat insists that the death is a suicide, while evidence reveals all is not what it seems. Other deaths follow, in the same pattern, while the army base closes ranks during Vera's investigation. The trauma of events in Afghanistan form the backdrop for a vivid story.
A Certain Samaritan
Never at ease with the past, Vera's dead father continues to plague her. She keeps discovering odd bitas and opeices left behind and hidden in her father's old house (now hers), bags of objects hidden under floorboards, old cassette tapes with a woman singing. In the course of a murder investigation, Detective Joe Ashworth gives Vera the address of her father's old paramour. In Newcastle, a bloody shoe is foundl; it turns out to match another on a murder victim discovered in a Northumberland truck-stop dumpster. It turns out that the victim, Niall Coulter, had plenty of money remaining in his wallet, someone's stolen credit card, and traces of heroin in his bloodstream. All the puzzles of past and present converge to force Vera to face truths about herself, while unearthing how/why Niall was murdered. His mother is no help whatsoever. The most unlikely and mysterious element in this episode must be noted: if that ol' ex-girlfriend of Vera's father was able to actually bear a child in the mid-1980s, she lived a very hard life indeed to look quite as elderly as she does now. No insult intended to the aged, as I am one of 'em, and getting more so every day!
Thankfully, "Vera" was renewed for a 3rd season, with Vera: Set 3 due out in January 2014. A 4th series is in the works! meantime, don't miss Vera: Set 1. Hopefully the series will continue for many more seasons, with quick-tempered, cantankerous DCI Vera Stanhope. The evocative, bleakly beautiful Northumberland landscape is a welcome, perfect stage for these intense mysteries.
The deeply talented, always compelling Brenda Blethyn is wonderful in the sharp comedy Saving Grace, and graceful dancing with Alfred Molina in Undertaking Betty, with cats Fred & Ginger. You may also enjoy the fine Scottish mysteries Hamish MacBeth: Series 1-3 Collection and the documentary A History of Scotland; all delicious with Islay single-malts Ardbeg or Laphroaig.
Although Vera seems a little bit "warmer" (she does smile more) in Season two (2) than she did in Season one (1), Vera is still not too "huggable" or cuddly; however, she remains a darn good detective. What tenacity she has, forever "digging" for the truth. There are indeed many hidden truths in Season two (2) for her to dig up and dig them up she does. This season is so well written, directed and wonderfully acted by all. Season two (2) has intriguing mysteries that had me spellbound in their entirety. I found myself, in Season two (2) , to be consistently surprised at the outcomes of each of the episodes.
By the way, the Northern English accents could get rather "thick" this season; therefore, once again, I used subtitles not wanting to miss any of the very well written and sometimes humorous dialog (especially from Vera).