The am­a­teur sleuth is back in his creepi­est case so far.

Few TV de­tec­tives have grown over time as much as Jonathan Creek. In the 20 years since he made his bow, we’ve said good­bye to the wind­mill, say­onara to the duf­fel coat and ciao to his em­ployer, chickchas­ing il­lu­sion­ist Adam Klaus. Not only that, but we’ve gal­loped through four side­kicks, with Creek’s wife Polly (Sarah Alexan­der), in­tro­duced in 2013 spe­cial The Clue of the Sa­vant’s Thumb, now his part­ner - in crime - solv­ing. There was a lot of good­will lost with the last series in 2014. The wob­bly mys­ter­ies and a dis­ap­point­ingly do­mes­ti­cated – and down­cast – Jonathan sug­gested the once un­con­quer­able David Ren­wick had lost heart in his cre­ation.

So “Daemons’ Roost” had a lot of con­vinc­ing to do. Would it be a re­turn to for­mer glo­ries? Would it con­vince JC diehards that Ren­wick had re­dis­cov­ered his puz­zle-con­jur­ing mojo? Hap­pily, the lat­est spe­cial proves to be the finest episode in over a decade. And al­though we’re still in Jonathan’s Pol­lyised world there is room, thank­fully, for a fan-pleas­ing cameo from the wind­mill (still un­sold since the wed­ding) and the duf­fel coat, al­beit in a prenup­tials flash­back se­quence.

The 90-minute spe­cials have al­ways al­lowed Ren­wick to pile on the puz­zles. The cen­tral mys­tery here – con­cern­ing a 90-de­gree-tilted room where mis­cre­ants are burned alive – is a clas­sic cut of grand guig­nol Creek, while the B-plot head­scratcher, the mys­tery of Stephen Belkin’s wife’s mur­der, is be­guil­ing enough to have been an episode on its own.

While Polly re­mains the weak­est and most fuzzily de­fined of Creek’s fe­male coin­ves­ti­ga­tors, at least Jonathan seems to have bucked him­self up since the last series. And, if there is to be an­other, please keep War­wick Davis’ Creek­wor­ship­ping Rev­erend Wilkie as a reg­u­lar.

Ku­dos should go, by the way, to di­rec­tor Sandy John­son, the helmer of most of the series’ most sat­is­fy­ing episodes but ab­sent since 2004. John­son’s steady hand helps make “Daemons’ Roost” jive like the old days. Three years ago, it looked as if Ren­wick had lost his lust for im­pos­si­ble crimes. But maybe, just maybe, there’s life in the tou­sle-haired de­tec­tive yet.

The mop-headed mys­tery solver (Alan Davies) finds a puz­zle wor­thy of his met­tle.

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