DCI Banks is back, with another two-parter, Strange Affair, the first episode of which I've just watched. I'm a long-time fan of the Peter Robinson books about Banks, but I haven't read this particular novel, which I suspect may be a good thing. The TV version featuring Stephen Tompkinson as Banks is perfectly watchable, but so far hasn't risen to the heights of the books. However, it's early days, and this story made a decent, if slightly slow, start.
Banks' brother Roy leaves Banks an anguished phone message, and it seems he may have something to do with the murder of a woman, who shortly afterwards is found shot to death. By this time, Banks himself has gone missing and the investigation is led at very short notice by DI Helen Morton, newly returned from maternity leave. Morton is played by Caroline Catz, a very appealing actor, who played a likeable DI in Murder in Suburbia. But Morton is very different - and much more serious.
So serious, in fact, that she treats Banks as a highly suspicious character, creating a bit of conflict, but (I felt) in a way that felt rather laboured and contrived. The screenplay writer might have done better to focus more on the whodunit side of the story, which didn't get going for a long time. The episode ended bleakly, though, with the discovery of Roy's body. He too had been shot.
The test of a two-parter is whether I want to watch the second episode, and the answer is that I do. My impression is that Tompkinson has toughened up his portrayal of Banks, and that's a sound move. He, like Catz, is a very engaging actor, and as the cast find their feet, it is possible that DCI Banks will turn into a staple of the schedules. At present, however, the jury is still out.