The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a two-part BBC TV adaptation of Charles Dickens' last, unfinished novel. It's a very long time since I read the original, but it's always fascinated me that Dickens moved in the direction of the crime and mystery genre in the later part of his career. Bleak House is one of my favourite novels, not only because of its portrayal of legal life, and the endless litigation of Jarndyce v Jarndyce, but also because of the part played by Inspector Bucket, a splendid character. Dickens was, like his friend Wilkie Collins, very interested in true crime, as well as having his imagination sparked by an element of mystery.
I've often wondered if, had he lived, Dickens would have made a greater contribution to the development of the crime genre - it is, surely, highly probable. In the past, I've published two short stories featuring the great man, once detecting alongside Collins, and once in partnership with Elizabeth Gaskell. They were great fun to write, and one of these days, I might do another.
Back to the BBC TV show. The screenplay was written by Gwyneth Hughes, who once wrote a screenplay for The Mrs Bradley Mysteries, in which Diana Rigg was unexpectedly cast as Gladys Mitchell's saurian detective. But the mood here was far removed from Golden Age territory - it was dark, hallucinatory and (or is there a twist up Hughes' sleeve?) a study of crime rather than a whodunit.
Matthew Rhys was impressive as the opium-tormented John Jasper, and Freddie Fox, from the famous acting family, played Edwin. The first episode began with a nightmare and ended with a killing. Yet the action was stripped down and this meant that the development of the story was not as labyrinthine as I'd rather expected. Writing this post immediately after watching, I still feel as though I want to mull over my reaction to this particular take on the story. But it has gripped me sufficiently for me to be keen to watch episode two tomorrow.