Film Friday: Hetty Wainthropp & the Poison Pen

Hetty wainthropp scooterIf you’ve never watched Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, you’re in for a treat. Patricia Routledge (better known for her British comedy series, Keeping Up Appearances) plays a redoubtable housewife-turned-detective in this mystery series from the BBC.

Hetty solves her cases in the northern English county of Lancashire, assisted by a teenaged sidekick and her retired husband. Living life on a budget, they ride buses or a borrowed scooter during the first couple of seasons, progressing to an old car in later episodes.

The second season opens with the episode “Poison Pen,” where Hetty is hired to discover who is turning villagers against one another with a spate of vile letters. Hetty poses as artist Tara Hall, who says her specialty is painting rocks. She boards at a local B&B in the newly converted pigeon coop. One of its former residents, Bertie, keeps returning to coo and peck at the window in the hopes of getting back inside his old home.

Hetty WainthroppThe stone cottages lining narrow village streets, the rise of the fells, even the overcast skies all combine into a cozy mystery with no murder to solve, just domestic order to put right again. The episode can stand alone as each ties up all loose ends, but if you have the time, the entire series is worth watching.

Patricia Routledge is a charmer, equal parts brisk and warm-hearted, and Dominic Monaghan (a hobbit in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) is perfectly cast as her young partner, Geoffrey.

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