Who killed Jasper Chiswell?
Adapted from the novel of the same name, Strike: Lethal White sees Strike (Tom Burke) and Robin (Holliday Grainger, The Capture) a year after the events of Career of Evil, now working alongside each other as partners and investigators. Robin is unhappily married to Matt (Kerr Logan), who still dissaproves of her work, whilst Strike is now in a relationship with dress-maker Lorelei (Natalie Gumede). The case begins when the pair find Billy (Joseph Quinn), a young and unstable man hiding in their office, he confesses that he witnessed the strangulation of a little girl when he was a child but has never came forward.
Strike and Robin begin to look into Billy’s claims but are soon approached by Jasper Chiswell (Robert Glenister), a man who has noticed the sudden interest in Billy and as a result needs their help. Chiswell is being blackmailed on two accounts- on one side by Geraint Winn (Robert Pugh), the husband of Minister for Sport Della Winn (Anna Canningd), and on the other side by Jimmy Knight (Nick Blood)– who is Billy’s older brother. Chiswell asks Strike to dig up dirt on Winn and Knight so he can counteract the blackmail, leading to Robin going undercover in Chiswell’s office.
Once the pair have obtained the dirt, Chiswell schedules for the two to meet him the next day for another potential case. The next day however Robin finds Chiswell dead in his office by apparent suicide. Chisewell’s daughter Izzy (Christina Cole), who Robin has befriended whilst undercover, doesn’t believe her Father would ever kill himself and hires the pair to look into the death. The Chiswell family however are a rich and powerful one and will go to great lengths to ensure their secrets stay hidden. Who really killed Chiswell? And can Strike and Robin figure it out before time runs out?
As I also mentioned in my book review, the plot to Lethal White is certianly a lengthy one. Split across four hour-long episodes, the series does take a while to get going and the actual murder doesn’t take place until the very end of episode 2. Initially, Strike and Robin begin to look into Billy’s claims of the strangled girl but then the blackmail storyline is introduced, putting the investigation onto a completely different path. Having read the book, I knew what was happening and what everything was building to but I feel like non-book readers might have gotten lost or maybe even bored- family members I watched it with did complain of the length.
Strike really has been adapted brilliantly from the original book, it’s definitely been a while since I read Lethal White but watching this has brought all the memories flying back. Things like the wedding scene and the Chiswell estate are exactly as I pictured when reading, even down to the smallest detail. Both Strike and Robin themselves are also portayed perfectly by Burke and Grainger. The two just work so well together and they are almost exactly what I pictured when reading. Book adaptations often make major changes to their original source material but the Strike series has definitely been adapted well and I think any fans of the books would also love the series.
As a fan of the crime genre, the private investigator subcategory is one I normally enjoy, and I think the Strike series offers a darker and grittier version than I am used to. Looking at some of my favourite PI series for example (Agatha Raisin, Shakesphere & Hathaway, etc) these series often use a comedic or softer approach to the private detective. With Strike however we get much darker and more serious cases and the overall tone is just very different. I like this darker aspect because it gives me a variation in what I read and watch and it’s exciting to watch these much more dramatic cases play out.
I really liked how the series approached Robin’s character and her anxiety and panic attacks. Events in Robin’s life have had a serious effect on her mental health and so in doing her job she is prone to attacks, something the series isn’t afraid of shying away from. I like how Grainger portrayed Robin as complex and flawed, it makes her more likeable and more well rounded as a character. Robin has issues but she still strives to be a detective and is working on managing her work/life balance, a character journey that is very interesting to see.
The relationship between Strike and Robin and the will they/won’t aspect is one of the driving forces of the series and I do really enjoy the chemistry between them. I’m not sure whether I’d actually want them to get together- I think it would majorly change the feel of the series if they did- but for now I enjoy the working relationship they share. How they’ve grown closer across the four stories has been great to see and I just think the pair click so well- something that can really been seen in Burke and Grainger’s performances. With Robin having now left Matt for good the potential for a romance is now higher than ever, so I’m eager to read book 5 to see how the relationship progresses.
JK Rowling, the author of the series, has been in the public eye a lot recently for some pretty bad reasons and so I know a lot of fans will feel uneasy about reading or watching any of her new material. It’s something I’ll talk more about in my upcoming review of the fifth Strike book Troubled Blood, but essentially I am choosing to see the art and the artist as two seperate entities. I don’t agree with Rowling’s views at all and I know that reading or watching the Strike series doesn’t change this. I am reading/watching Strike because I enjoy Strike, not because of anything to do with Rowling.
Overall, I enjoyed watching the TV adaptation of Lethal White. I think in general the Strike series has done a fantastic job at adapting the four books in terms of both plot and character, often down to the smallest detail. Lethal White is certianly a lengthy story but the series was able to make every moment count and I enjoyed watching each episode. With book 5 in the series now out, I’m excited for even more Strike and Robin and can’t wait to see what they get up to next.