James Purefoy recently played the villain Dr. Joe Carroll in the Fox show The Following. I wasn’t impressed; as Purefoy showed little of the extreme charisma required for such a role as a professor turned serial killer who inspires an entire cult. I never once bought the idea that his character was evil.
Yet Purefoy seemed a competent actor and I made a mental note to check out some of his other work when given the opportunity. That chance came along recently when I discovered the five-part drama Injustice originally broadcast on ITV in the UK and now available via Hulu.
Purefoy plays William Travers a lawyer working in Ipswich, Suffolk after a successful, but for reasons that will become apparent, shortened career in London. Travers and his wife Jane – an excellently cast Dervla Kirwan – have relocated to a slower lifestyle and away from his high profile murder cases of the past.
The show is written by Anthony Horowitz whose previous work includes Foyle’s War, Murder in Mind, the quirky science fiction show Crime Traveller and Collision, the latter of which was a similar five-part drama broadcast in 2009 that I also enjoyed.
Simultaneously two events occur that drive the drama. A local man who turns out to be a high profile animal rights activist is found shot dead and Travers’ old University friend Martin Newall is charged with the murder of his secretary with whom he (Newall) has been having an affair. Nathaniel Parker, better known to most as Inspector Lynley, plays very much against type here and is very good as the innocent old friend who also happened to date Travers’ wife in their mutual University days.
Purefoy gives a nuanced performance, so much so that I wonder if he was cast in The Following on the basis of this. Competent and yet with an air of occasional fragility as a result of his final case in London, Travers seems a man well set with his lot in life. Meanwhile Kirwan gets a backstory about teaching literature at a young offenders facility and this is tied into the main narrative via her brightest pupil and the dogged pursuit by a detective inspector concerning the death of the local man.
Charlie Creed-Miles is appropriately creepy, violent and out of control as the detective inspector who is given more than enough rope by his superiors because he gets results. Purefoy and Kirwan work well together too and their relationship is quite believable, even as they go about their separate tasks.
There’s also an undercurrent of Jane Travers wanting to return to London and not being confortable back in Ipswich. Those familiar with English geography may question why being just 80 miles outside of London is considered to be impractical for a commute, but trust me that is an accurate representation of the local mindset.
Each episode runs around 45 minutes and the first four set up an excellent climatic finale where matters are concluded with a couple of nice twists along the way. Horowitz, who also is a prolific children and young adult book author, seems to have murder mysteries down pat and I look forward to whatever arrives next from his talented hand.
— Wallace Poulter