Dark se­crets and trou­bled pasts

Who­dunits full of peo­ple in misty val­leys are noth­ing new but Loch Ness’ whole town of sus­pects makes it in­trigu­ing.

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Loch Ness (now avail­able on Light­box) opens with sweep­ing views of beau­ti­ful Scot­tish coun­try­side and suit­ably creepy mu­sic that sig­nals bad things are about to hap­pen. Sure enough, there – un­der the placid waters of the loch – is a float­ing corpse an­chored to a curl­ing stone. Cut to the local curl­ing club, where it’s all jolly com­mu­nity ca­ma­raderie and cries of ‘‘sweep, sweep’’.

Then there’s an­other dead man. This one is at the bot­tom of a clifftop. They’ve clearly got a mur­der rate on a par with Bro­ken­wood and Mid­somer com­bined. But it turns out they’ve ac­tu­ally got a se­rial killer. And he’s a par­tic­u­larly bru­tal one – rip­ping out hearts and pulling out brain parts through noses.

Clearly, all is not as happy as it seems in the beau­ti­ful Scot­tish coun­try­side and pretty soon out­siders are turn­ing up, too.

Plain-talk­ing de­tec­tive in­spec­tor Lor­raine Quigley (Siob­han Fin­neran of Down­ton Abbey and Happy Val­ley) is called in to head up the in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­cause it’s be­yond the local po­lice. ‘‘Beauty of na­ture,’’ she says, walking around the clifftop crime scene, ‘‘bores the liv­ing sh.. out of me.’’ Mean­while, local cop An­nie Red­ford (Laura Fraser) is keen to be on the case but is com­pro­mised by her teenage daugh­ter’s pranks with hu­man body parts.

Yep, I know, small towns brim­ming with dark se­crets be­hind closed doors are hardly a rar­ity on tele­vi­sion. And there’s a bit too much time in­tro­duc­ing char­ac­ters and var­i­ous strands of the story at the start. But it does start to come to­gether as a pretty en­gag­ing who­dun­nit.

As for the mur­derer, my money is on creepy col­lege head Craig – he found the sec­ond body; won’t talk about it; and tells his wife he wants some time alone. Doesn’t that sound se­rial killer-ish? But it’s early days and while this for­mat might not break any moulds, it’s got a whole town of sus­pects and I re­ally want to know who did it.

It’s mur­der from a dif­fer­ent an­gle in local drama Dear Mur­derer (Thurs­days, 8.30pm, TVNZ1). This five-parter tells the story of one of

New Zealand’s most colour­ful le­gal char­ac­ters. Mike Bun­gay (Mark Mitchin­son), who fea­tured in a num­ber of high-pro­file cases.

The first episode be­gins way back be­fore Bun­gay be­came well known and gives us glimpses of a trau­matic child­hood in wartime England. It then moves onto his early ca­reer: from his de­ci­sion to go into law (which was based on the toss of a coin) to his early court ap­pear­ances and de­fi­ant attitude to­wards au­thor­ity. All of this in­ter­spersed with plenty of shots of Bun­gay swirling scotch in the local bar and fall­ing into bed with a pro­ces­sion of women.

This se­ries is based on a book by Bun­gay’s widow, Ronda and, per­haps, be­cause of this in­sight it does a good job of slowly build­ing up a por­trait of a trou­bled but bril­liant man with lit­tle re­gard for au­thor­ity but great re­gard for the law it­self. Def­i­nitely worth a look.

With a se­rial killer on the loose and a wad of sus­pects, the cops in Loch Ness have their hands full as they try to solve the murrr-ders.

Dear Mur­derer tells the story of Kiwi lawyer Mike Bun­gay (Mark Mitchin­son) who fea­tured in a num­ber of high-pro­file cases.

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