The ver­dict on the sec­ond series about a French de­tec­tive hunt­ing ab­ducted chil­dren.

As any­one who watched Series 1 of The Miss­ing knows, in­tri­cate plots packed with un­ex­pected twists are the hall­mark of Harry and Jack Wil­liams’ writ­ing. But the first run now seems al­most sim­plis­ti­cally lin­ear be­side Series 2, which zips back and forth be­tween three coun­tries and four or five dif­fer­ent time zones, toss­ing in enough clever twists, side-plots, red her­rings and rab­bit-out-of-hat rev­e­la­tions to keep our minds spin­ning.

Series 2 isn’t a se­quel as such, al­though it has its cen­tral theme in com­mon. The first series fo­cused on James Nes­bitt’s at­tempts to track down his young son, who had gone miss­ing from a small town in North­ern France. This time around, the only ma­jor char­ac­ter to resur­face is French po­lice de­tec­tive Julien Bap­tiste (Tchéky Karyo), who helped Nes­bitt in his search. Now re­tired, Bap­tiste is still de­ter­mined to dis­cover what hap­pened to two teenage girls: the French So­phie Giroux and Alice Web­ster, an English girl liv­ing on a British mil­i­tary base in Ger­many. Along with Karyo, act­ing hon­ours go to Kee­ley Hawes as Gemma, Alice’s mother, her stoic an­guish all the more tor­mented when it seems her daugh­ter has re­turned but she knows some­thing’s not right; Laura Fraser as Eve Stone, a mil­i­tary cop who gets too in­volved in the case for her own good; and Roger Al­lam as Eve’s fa­ther, be­mused by long-buried guilt and in­cip­i­ent de­men­tia.

As Alice’s fa­ther, Cap­tain Sam Web­ster, David Mor­ris­sey oc­ca­sion­ally slips into one-note army-dis­ci­pline pig­head­ed­ness, but re­deems him­self – and his char­ac­ter – by the end. It’s also good to see Óla­fur Darri Ólaf­s­son, from the Ice­landic TV series Trapped, in a small but vi­tal role. But the whole cast are ex­cel­lent, and for all the tricksy plot­ting we come to care about these peo­ple as the emo­tional ten­sion mounts.

Against all ex­pec­ta­tions the fi­nal episode ties up al­most all the loose ends. Here and there the co­in­ci­dences strain credulity just a touch too far. But over­all this is a skil­fully writ­ten, highly imag­i­na­tive sec­ond series of The Miss­ing that makes shrewd use of its international cast and lo­ca­tions to stretch the pos­si­bil­i­ties of tele­vi­sion drama.

Alice (Abi­gail Hard­ing­ham) looks like she needs a nice hot bath and a cup of tea...

...But has to take mat­ters into his own hands. Bap­tiste (Tchéky Karyo) can’t let the case go...

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