Monday, Oct. 26, 2009

Place of Execution

PBS’ Latest Mystery

By David Luhrssen
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In 1963, a 13-year old girl in a remote English town goes missing, sparking a notorious murder trial. Although her body was never found, her wealthy stepfather was convicted on circumstantial evidence, including a cache of pornographic photos he had taken with the girl. Forty-five years later, a British documentary filmmaker, Catherine Heathcote, revisits the crime and finds herself drawn into a case that now appears less than open and shut. Did the police inspector on the case, who since became one of Britain’s most respected public officials, fabricate evidence?

Based on a novel by Scottish author Val McDermid, “Place of Execution” is a two-part British series airing 8 p.m., Nov. 1 and Nov. 8 on Milwaukee Public Television. It’s a solid contemporary British crime drama with undercurrents of class conflict and overtones of the voracious, sensation-seeking nature of the news media. Heathcote is an interesting protagonist, a driven workaholic and not entirely successful mum, throwing herself into investigation the death of a girl roughly her daughter’s age. Seamlessly moving between past and present, “Place of Execution” is as adeptly filmed and edited as it is well acted. The form in which the story is told is almost as important as the content.

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