Patrick Malahide as Inspector Alleyn in “Death in a White Tie”, S02E01

He’s going to take this a little personally…  Patrick Malahide as Inspector Alleyn in "Death in a White Tie"

He’s going to take this a little personally…

Patrick Malahide got series 2 of the BBC’s “Inspector Alleyn Mysteries” off to an excellent start with the first episode,  “Death in a White Tie” (1993), in which Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn is required to investigate the murder of someone very close to him, family friend Lord Robert Gospell (Harold Innocent), fondly known as “Bunchie”.  The case is especially meaningful for Alleyn as Bunchie was assisting him in an investigation at the time he was killed, and Alleyn feels personally responsible for his death.  So, how does our normally calm and cool-headed Chief Inspector react when a murder is more personal?

A White Tie Affair

Why couldn't we have had more white tie episodes??

Why couldn’t we have had more white tie episodes??

The story opens at a swank society ball – you know, one so swank that people’s names are announced as they enter the room – and luckily we do get to see Alleyn in white tie (looking simply smashing), although he’s sans Troy (Belinda Lang) for the occasion.  The reason for this soon becomes evident, as Alleyn is obviously working; even as he smiles and greets people (being a baronet’s younger brother seems to mean he has a lot of connections), his eyes are scanning the crowd.  He’s laughing and exchanging pleasantries with Bunchie and all seems normal until one particular woman, whom we will come to know as the tongue-twistingly named Mrs. Dorothy Halcut-Hackett (Amanda Boxer), sneaks away to secrete her purse behind an ornate clock.  She’s being watched by Alleyn and one of his waiter-disguised policemen the entire time, so clearly, something is up.

However, we have to wait to find out what all the intrigue was about, because we next follow Bunchie on a visit to his doctor’s office.  Sir Daniel Davidson (John Carlisle) advises Bunchie that he really needs to take better care of himself, which (to Bunchie’s dismay) means cutting out all the things he likes, like port and cigars, to spare his weak heart.  Hmm…  a weak heart doesn’t sound ominous in a murder mystery, does it?

Portraits and Rakes

Hey wait, who's that guy?

Hey wait, who’s that guy?

Meanwhile, Agatha Troy is painting her next portrait subject, Captain Maurice Withers (John Bowe), who’s eyeing her up with a speculative leer that he probably thinks is irresistible. Troy doesn’t seem to agree (maybe she caught a glimpse of Alleyn in his white tie before he left for the party), but she is being paid to paint his portrait.  “What are you going to call it, the Rogue’s Gallery?” he asks, and she replies, “You’re not a rogue, are you, Captain Withers?”, with an air of not falling for his advertising.  The banter (if you can call it that) is interrupted by Alleyn’s arrival, and he has the vaguely apologetic demeanour that says he’s about to stand up Troy for work, again – which is exactly what he does.  But before he can explain, he immediately notices Withers and sizes him up with a startled glance.  It probably doesn’t help his first impression that Withers is sprawled rather… suggestively in one of Troy’s chairs.  But really, nothing’s going on, she was only painting him!  😉  Actually, I quite enjoyed the contrast between Alleyn and Withers in this scene; it’s obvious that one is eminently reliable (even if he does break dates), while the other is someone you should run screaming into the night to avoid.

Withers seems to be sizing up Alleyn, too.  He recognizes Alleyn by name as “the famous shamus”, to which Alleyn modestly replies, “Hardly,” although Troy confirms him as “The very one,” to his (adorable) embarrassment.   Alleyn then conducts a simultaneous negotiation/making up for not attending Troy’s one-woman exhibition in whispers, glancing at Withers as he does so (he doesn’t like negotiating his personal life with an audience, especially not that guy), and they settle on dinner for Saturday, “if you’re not too busy” (with another glance at Withers, which I’m sure isn’t at all significant).  Could it be that Alleyn is just a smidge territorial?

A Little Cloak and Dagger

Enlisting Bunchie's help

Enlisting Bunchie’s help

Bunchie arrives at Scotland Yard that evening, having been invited by Alleyn, and the previous night’s intrigue is made clear.  Mrs. Halcut-Hackett (whom I will henceforth refer to as “Mrs. H.-H.” because it’s easier) is being blackmailed… well, she says her friend is being blackmailed… for the sum of £500, or else damaging letters detailing her friend’s liaison with another man will be sent to her friend’s (third) husband.  The sting operation to reveal the blackmailer at the ball didn’t come off because either Alleyn or his man was rumbled, so the next payoff will be – coincidentally enough – at Troy’s exhibition.  Alleyn can’t go because he’d be recognized instantly (okay, I guess that might be a legitimate reason to blow it off), so he asks Bunchie to keep an eye on things in his stead.  Bunchie agrees, with a delighted smirk that suggests he’d love the opportunity to engage in a little cloak-and-dagger.

Intrigue at Troy’s Exhibition

All the usual suspects are again in attendance at Troy’s opening:  Sir Daniel, Withers, Mrs. H.-H., and even the caterer, Colombo Dimitri (Charles Kay) is the same.  There’s also a likely new blackmailing victim, Lady Evelyn Carrados (Diana Quick), along with her daughter Bridget O’Brien (Charlotte Williams) and Bridget’s maybe-beau, Donald Potter (Samuel West), who by sheerest coincidence happens to be Bunchie’s nephew.  By more sheer coincidence, Potter owes some substantial gambling debts to Withers, who’s  corrupting the young man into the ways of rake-dom.  Rakehood?  At any rate, Withers is a bad influence and Bunchie tries to warn Donald of this, but gets called a “complacent Edwardian relic” for his pains.   I also noticed a painting in this scene that I think might be a nod to Ngaio Marsh’s Black as He’s Paintedsince it depicts an African warrior in full ceremonial dress, similar to something Troy paints in the novel.  I don’t know if it was intentional, but it’s an interesting bit of continuity if that was the intention.

The evening proceeds and the attendees heap loads of praise on Troy’s work – which, thankfully, is somewhat better this time around than her usual sketches of her sweetie – while intrigue goes on in the background.  Bunchie takes his surveillance duties very seriously, even pretending to be asleep in order to see who picks up Mrs. H.-H.’s purse from its hidden spot behind some bric-a-brac.    The purse is picked up and returned – presumably empty, going by Mrs. H.-H.’s expression – by… the caterer, Colombo Dimitri.  Does this mean that the caterer did it?

Bunchie Discovers the Blackmailer

Mysterious phone call - Bunchie knows whodunnit, but can't say at the moment

Mysterious phone call – Bunchie knows whodunnit,
but can’t say at the moment

The next big white tie event is Bridget O’Brien’s coming-out party, where all of the major suspects, including the caterer(! is he the only one in London?) are once again in attendance.  Troy’s there with Bunchie, who’s once again performing surveillance on Alleyn’s behalf.  He’s still taking  his duties very seriously, even becoming distracted while dancing with Troy when he spies Withers snogging all over Mrs. H.-H. (eww – we knew he was a bad ‘un) – or at least, that’s what we think distracts him.  Lady Carrados is there too, with £500 in her purse to pay off the same blackmailer.  Towards the end of the evening, Bunchie has a sudden revelation about what’s going on and phones Alleyn, who’s just on his way out the door at the Yard.  Bunchie says he knows who the blackmailer is (“It’s the cakes and ale fella,”) but he’s also discovered that the blackmailer is working with a partner.  Bunchie arranges to meet Alleyn right away, as soon as he gets out of his evening wear and collects his notes.  However, before he can tell Alleyn the partner’s identity, he’s interrupted and has to cut the call short.  Alleyn settles in to wait, and Bunchie departs the party, alone, to get a cab.

"He was a dear, sweet man, Br'er... He never harmed another human being. I want his killer."

“He was a dear, sweet man, Br’er… He never harmed another human being. I want his killer.”

Unfortunately, Bunchie doesn’t arrive at the Yard alive for his meeting with Alleyn – which is rather sad, as I’d rather gotten to like the fellow.  🙁  Alleyn is woken from a sound sleep at his desk by a sergeant, who takes him outside to show him poor Bunchie’s dead body in a cab.  Mr. Malahide does some wonderful wordless acting here as Alleyn realizes what’s happened with a growing sense of utter anger, shock, and stunned grief, exacerbated by an overly chatty cabbie who feels the need to tell him the blatantly obvious, that Bunchie’s been murdered.  However, the cabbie does convey the useful information that he had two fares, although he doesn’t know who the other one was.  Inspector Fox (William Simons) soon arrives, and Alleyn quickly puts him to work on the case:  “He was a dear, sweet man, Br’er… He never harmed another human being.  I want his killer.”

Searching for Clues

Uncharacteristically unshaven, and going through Bunchie's notes.

Uncharacteristically unshaven, and
going through Bunchie’s notes.

The various suspects have various reactions to the news, which has made the headlines.  Potter is shocked and surprised, while Withers (with whom he’s staying – all the better to corrupt young Donald) doesn’t seem surprised in the least.  Colombo Dimitri seems anxious about something, while Mrs. H.-H. seems rather callous and unconcerned, possibly smugly satisfied.  She even extinguishes her cigarette in her tea, just to show us how rude and uncultured she is.  Meanwhile, Troy accompanies Alleyn to Bunchie’s house, where he lived with his sister Mildred (Polly Adams), to go through Bunchie’s papers and see if he can find any information as to who the killer might have been.  Alleyn is unusually tense and highly emotional – I got the sense it might all come bursting out of him at any moment, though he was holding everything in check with the utmost of his control in order to function.  As a further sign of his distress, he’s uncharacteristically unshaven, showing that he hasn’t slept and has been pushing himself, neglecting everything else in order to pursue Bunchie’s killer.

A Row with Troy

Putting his foot in it (and knowing very well that he's doing so).

Putting his foot in it (and knowing very well that he’s doing so).

Troy is understandably concerned for Alleyn’s welfare and brings him a cup of tea, the universal problem-solver and soother of feelings.  She tells Alleyn that Bunchie seemed perturbed at seeing Withers with Mrs. H.-H., whom Troy (along with the rest of London) suspects of having an affair.  Then Alleyn – and I suppose we have to cut him some slack for this, because he is rather overwrought, after all – asks Troy what her relationship with Withers is, in his best “policeman interrogation” tones (and Mr. Malahide has a wonderful expression of vulnerability and dread coupled with reluctant compulsion as he asks).  Of course, it would be uncharitable to wonder if he might be asking this for personal reasons in addition to professional ones.  Unfortunately for him, Troy reacts about as well to this as one might expect (ie. badly).  Addressing Alleyn as “Chief Inspector” (oooo, burn), she says there’s nothing between her and Withers; she’s been commissioned to paint his portrait and that’s all.   Then she leaves, and a wounded-looking Alleyn is left to wonder how much damage he’s just done.

Interrogating Withers

Interrogating Withers. He doesn't like him at all.

Interrogating Withers. He doesn’t like him at all.

The coroner tells Fox and Alleyn that Bunchie was stunned by a blow to his temple from something blunt-edged and then suffocated with his own cloak, as evinced by a fragment of black wool found under his tongue.  They then go to Withers’ flat to interrogate him, and it’s probably safe at this point to assume that Alleyn’s already in an extremely bad mood: his good friend is dead, he’s rowed with his girlfriend, hasn’t eaten or slept, is wearing yesterday’s clothes, is unshaven and nearing the end of his tether.  This puts him in the perfect frame of mind to deal with Withers, who proves to have a complete lack of social sensitivity as well as self-preservation.  He’s so oblivious (or perhaps it’s on purpose, to needle Alleyn) that he asks, “How was the old boy killed?” in an offhand, almost jovial tone.  Alleyn, who by now suspects that the blunt-edged weapon used was probably a cigarette case, examines Withers’ case, then cleverly gets his “dabs” on Alleyn’s own case for further analysis.  He tries to shake Withers into an admission of guilt (with a wonderfully intimidating eye-to-eye glare) but can’t, even though Alleyn knows all sorts of prurient details about his lifestyle. Withers categorically denies seeing Bunchie after the party or interrupting his phone call.  He refuses to explain what his dealings in “L” are (as per Bunchie’s notes) and further endears himself to Alleyn by referring to Bunchie as a “fat, old buffoon”.  See?  No sense of self-preservation.  Alleyn reacts to the insult with leashed anger, but (remarkably) refrains from knocking Withers’ block off, for the time being.

Everyone Has a Cigarette Case

Fox is beginning to get a bit concerned for his guv by this time, noting as they leave Withers’ apartment building that Alleyn has neither eaten nor slept and “will do [himself] no favours trying to work this case on [his] nerves”.  An unappreciative Alleyn replies that he’s “not a hothouse flower” (aaawww – but he sort of is) and they proceed to Sir Daniel Davidson’s for questioning.  He’s not especially helpful either, although he does remember seeing a garish cigarette case (with a Chellini medallion surrounded by brilliants on it; “Hideous!” says Sir Daniel) lying on a pie-crust table in the telephone room prior to Bunchie’s telephone call.  Alleyn examines Sir Daniel’s own cigarette case, but declares that it can’t have been the murder weapon since it has “traces of plate powder in the tooling” which would have been present on the bruise to Bunchie’s temple.  Before they leave, Sir Daniel notes that Alleyn “appear[s] to be under some strain [him]self”, and offers him the medical advice that he needs rest – as Fox looks on and doesn’t say, “I told you so.”

Fox persuades his guv into some tea and a shave.

Fox persuades his guv into some tea and a shave.

Back at the Yard, Fox finds Alleyn brooding, now that he’s had a bit of free time for contemplation.  Alleyn is racked with guilt, telling Fox with barely contained emotion that if he hadn’t asked Bunchie to help, “he’d still be alive.”  Mixing pragmatism with his mother-henning, Fox notes that thinking like that won’t get Alleyn any further, nor would Lord Robert have thanked Alleyn for the sentiment, “and that’s a fact.”  They’ve narrowed the suspects to three people who were likely to have overheard Bunchie:  Withers, Potter, and Sir Herbert Carrados.  However, Alleyn (who’s thinking more clearly after a sandwich) points out that anyone could have overheard Bunchie and then left again, without being seen by the waiters.  He also finally obliges Fox by having a shave.  😉

Reconstructing the Crime

Fox and Alleyn return to the scene of the debutante ball and try to reconstruct the crime.  They’re not getting very far until Alleyn interrogates the ubiquitous caterer, Colombo Dimitri who, unlike Captain Withers, is a little easier to intimidate.  Alleyn questions Dimitri about the timing of various guests leaving the party and Dimitri slips up, revealing that he gave Lady Carrados’ purse back to her during the evening.  He attempts to pass this off as quite ordinary until Alleyn reveals that Bunchie’s notes have Dimitri returning Mrs. H.-H.’s bag at Troy’s opening as well – which rattles Dimitri so badly that he crushes his own pince-nez and cuts his thumb.  He refuses to say more without a solicitor and beats a hasty retreat, while Fox comments that he’s “shaken up a fair treat” and  “doesn’t know if he’s Mayfair, Soho, or Wandsworth.”  Alleyn replies that either “Wandsworth or Wormwood Scrubs” would do fine; I googled to find out that among other things, these refer to prison locations on the outskirts of London.

An Apology and Forgiveness (and Conking Out)

Don't pour your heart out to an unconscious man

Don’t pour your heart out to an unconscious man

Meanwhile, a perturbed Troy is wrestling with her impulses but not phoning Alleyn – not, not, not!  Even though she might really want to.  But she won’t!  Anyway, her indecision is rendered moot when Alleyn turns up of his own accord, saying, “I’m sorry,” as soon as she opens the door.  Aaaawwww!  That’s a good start.   Maybe he should’ve brought a pineapple for added effect.  🙂  Troy makes tea while pouring her heart out about their row, explaining that Alleyn’s question about Withers made her feel as if he didn’t trust her.  She understands that he had to ask the question, but it disappointed her…  only to turn around and find him sound asleep, sitting up on her chaise, having missed everything she said.  Well, she can’t possibly be angry at him now!  He looks too cute.

Completely discombobulated and mussed

Completely discombobulated and mussed

Meanwhile, Donald Potter, whom everyone’s been looking for, gets tossed into the drunk tank after a severe bender, raving about having killed his uncle.  He drifts off into a surrealistic dream about the murder, seeing visions of the ball, Bunchie lying dead, Troy dancing with Withers, silver cigarette cases, and Alleyn knocking out Bunchie with one… only to have Alleyn awake with a start (it was actually his dream, y’see) on Troy’s couch.  He looks adorably mussed – probably the most mussed he’s ever looked in the entire series – and completely discombobulated, both rare states for him.  And Troy must have a will of iron, because she somehow managed to restrain herself from so much as loosening his tie, unbuttoning his collar, or taking off his shoes before draping a blanket over him.  Apparently Alleyn’s not used to waking up in strange women’s flats, or even Troy’s.  😉

“Chief Inspector, I do believe you’re embarrassed.”

Ablutions at Troy's and looking a bit worried - or is that embarrassed?

Ablutions at Troy’s and looking a bit worried –
or is that embarrassed?

Being at least somewhat human despite her preternatural self-control, Troy can’t resist rubbing it in a little.  She bids Alleyn good morning, lets him know it’s five past eight (he’s late!!), and asks casually if anything’s the matter before declaring, “Chief Inspector…  I do believe you’re embarrassed.”  “Nonsense,” Alleyn (unconvincingly) replies, still looking discombobulated because he’s totally embarrassed.  Or embarrassed because he’s totally discombobulated, whichever.  Probably both.  He nips off to Troy’s bathroom for some quick ablutions, but his morning abruptly becomes even more embarrassing when Fox phones him at Troy’s flat; very shocking when they aren’t married!  😉  Well, Fox is a detective.  You’d think it wouldn’t be that surprising that he’d be able to figure out where his guv might be, and Alleyn did leave Troy’s number at the Yard.  Alleyn is mortified but to her credit, Troy doesn’t seem bothered at all – probably because she’s never, ever going to let Alleyn forget this.

Tracked down by Fox

Tracked down by Fox

Fox can’t resist rubbing it in either, noting with a certain glee that he first rang Alleyn’s flat but got no reply, and asking if that was “Miss Troy” who answered the phone (knowing full well it was; he’s never going to let Alleyn forget this, either).  He tells Alleyn that Sir Daniel’s alibi checked out and Donald Potter’s turned up at the Bow Street nick, raving about being the murderer.  Alleyn’s not pleased he wasn’t told (one of the few times he raises his voice), but Fox replies that he thought his guv could use the rest… which he could.  They make arrangements to interview Sir Herbert Carrados (Oliver Ford Davies) later that morning.

Lady Carrados’ Secret

Upon arrival at the Carrados’, Alleyn has to fend off some flirting from Bridget O’Brien, Sir Herbert’s stepdaughter. “Are all detectives as handsome as you?” she asks, and he replies, “I knew your father,” which seems to thoroughly crush any little hopes she might have had on that score (he’s used to dealing with groupies).  Sir Herbert, an ex-military type, is indulging in target practice in his basement, where he has a gun range set up.  He answers Alleyn’s questions reasonably steadily until Alleyn says that he’d like to interview Lady Carrados, when he abruptly misses his next shot.  Sir Herbert attempts to deflect the situation, saying that Lady Carrados is too tired and disturbed for an interview, but then the butler appears and says she’s asking to talk to Alleyn.

Lady Carrados reveals her big secret

Lady Carrados reveals her big secret

Lady Carrados is surprised to learn that Alleyn already knows she’s being blackmailed and the payment method she was supposed to follow, which perhaps makes her more comfortable in revealing her secret – that and Alleyn is a personal friend.  She reveals that she and her first husband, Paddy O’Brien, weren’t legally married, making their daughter Bridget illegitimate.  O’Brien’s first wife went mad, and he left Australia without getting a divorce, meeting Evelyn and falling in love with her in England.  O’Brien received “good news” in a telegram from Australia about five months after he married Lady Carrados, but he died in a car accident before revealing to her what it was.  She searched for the letter but could never find it and presumed it lost, until now, when the blackmailer somehow got hold of it, and she’ll do anything to keep Bridget from finding out the truth.  Meanwhile, Sir Herbert eavesdrops on their conversation and then rummages through a secret compartment in his desk, looking most perturbed when it comes up empty.

However, Alleyn has some success in another quarter.  The pieces are beginning to fall into place for nabbing Withers, whom Alleyn despises and would really like to throw in the nick.  Surveillance has revealed that Withers is involved in a House of Ill Repute near Leatherhead (the “L” of Bunchie’s notes).  Fox drily notes that the house has gambling and “unbonded spirits” on the ground floor and “upstairs, there are more bedrooms than might be required by the average family”.  “A casino and a brothel,” muses Alleyn and Fox replies, “Whatever tickles your fancy, sir.”  😀

An Unequal Battle of Wits with Mrs. H.-H.

Playing an unfair game of wits with Mrs. H.-H.

Playing an unfair game of wits with Mrs. H.-H.

Alleyn also starts to pull the net closed around Mrs. H.-H. (whose American accent, I’ve got to say, is a little on the bizarre side).  He reveals that he knows she’s been blackmailed, not her “imaginary friend”, and that the subject of the blackmail is her ongoing affair with Withers.  He knows she had a tryst with Withers in the telephone room at Bridget O’Brien’s party, leaving her vulgar cigarette case behind (he even reads the case’s inscription, and you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Mr. Malahide say “To Darling DoDo, from her Mugwump” with a completely straight face).  It’s a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent, but at least Mrs. H.-H. clears up Sir Daniel’s timing in spotting her cigarette case, which is much later than he said.  She also inadvertently reveals that Colombo the caterer is the common element in all of the blackmail cases so far.  He was the only one with the opportunity to steal “Mugwump’s” love letters to her, although she’s convinced Bunchie did it.  After she leaves, Alleyn asks Fox if he was perhaps too hard on her, but vows he’ll do whatever it takes to get Bunchie’s killer, “even if it costs me the job!”

Alleyn takes a slight detour next, confirming that Withers and Mrs. H.-H. went to the Matador Club (a nightclub!!) after the ball – it’s meant to be a dive, but the place looks rather genteel when compared to SkinSkapes or even the Winchester.  He’s surprised to find Bridget and Don Potter in such a lowlife place (I suspect Mark Binney would probably really like it).  He chides Potter for taking Bridget to “a place like this” and brings them back to the Yard, since they say they have something they want to discuss, namely Potter’s belief that Withers murdered Bunchie in the hopes of getting control of Potter’s inheritance.

Sir Herbert’s Secret

But the final piece doesn’t fall into place for Alleyn until Lady Carrados comes to pick up her wayward daughter.  She takes Alleyn aside and begs him, when he marries, “not to marry out of gratitude or habit”, as she did Sir Herbert.  O’Brien was the true love of her life, even though Sir Herbert was devoted and perpetually faithful, driving her to see  O’Brien after his automobile accident.   Alleyn realizes that this would have given Sir Herbert access to the letter about Paddy’s first wife.  But could he have been blackmailing Lady Carrados, his own wife?

Confronting His Last Two Suspects

Confronting Sir Daniel with the tacky cigarette case and the secret code

Confronting Sir Daniel with the tacky cigarette case
and the secret code

Realizing his secret is about to be exposed and it’s far too late to fix his marriage, a despairing Sir Herbert commits suicide.  However, Alleyn deduces that he couldn’t have been the blackmailer, since the letter was in his possession for years and he never used it.  The only person who was ever left alone in Sir Herbert’s study – and had access to the secret drawer with the secret letter in it – was Colombo Dimitri, prior to planning Bridget’s debutante ball.  But Alleyn also determines that Dimitri didn’t act alone; he’s been under surveillance since the murder and has been paying particular attention to a newspaper’s personals column.  Alleyn realizes a code  being used to pass messages via the personals and calls in… Sir Daniel Davidson.

The doctor is relaxed and jovial at first, seeming not to recognize Dimitri at all.  He swears to his timing of finding Mrs. H.-H.-s vulgar cigarette case in the telephone room, only looking slightly startled when Alleyn confirms she left it there much later.  Alleyn indulges in a bit of theatrics by having Sir Daniel read out the coded message, which he’s pasted into the cigarette case, and deciphering the code, which is a message from “D.D.” to “C.D.” to lie low.

Revealing Bunchie’s Killer

Then the pace picks up and Alleyn begins to get unusually tough.  He accuses Sir Daniel of using his medical practice to discover blackmail-worthy information about his patients, passing it on to Dimitri as the go-between – and Bunchie had figured out their connection.  Alleyn begins to lose his temper, barely restraining himself from getting violent with Sir Daniel (another marvelous piece of acting by Mr. Malahide) when he describes how Sir Daniel murdered Bunchie, even stuffing Sir Daniel’s handkerchief into his mouth to give him a taste of being smothered until Fox warns him off.  Sir Daniel sneers that it’s all conjecture and Alleyn can’t prove a thing, then Alleyn offers Dimitri a deal:  he can be charged with blackmail and conspiracy to murder, or plain old blackmail, for which he won’t hang.  Dimitri immediately rolls over on Sir Daniel and confesses everything, confirming that Sir Daniel was the murderer.  Alleyn’s finally able to sit back with an enormous sense of relief at having obtained justice for Bunchie.

Making It Up to Troy

Making it up to Troy, aaawww!

Making it up to Troy, aaawww!

There are just a couple of things left to do:  nab Withers before he can do a runner (Alleyn sends a D.S. to do that), drink a toast to Bunchie’s memory, and make it up to Troy.  She asks when Alleyn first suspected Sir Daniel, and he says it was when he noticed the traces of plate powder in the tooling of Sir Daniel’s cigarette case (everyone’s got a cigarette case!), showing that it had been recently cleaned.  Troy says Alleyn’s “frightfully observant” to spot such things, and asks what else he notices…  whereupon he gets all soppy (and don’t ever let anyone say that Mr. Malahide can’t do soppy or romance), saying that he’s noticed her eyes are grey with little green flecks, and her face “goes all crooked” when she smiles (I’m sure that’s a good thing), and that whenever he’s in trouble, he only wants to be with her.  They share a kiss and stroll off into the night together.  Aaaawww!  🙂

Another Inspector Alleyn Mystery Wrapped Up

Like I said, this was a simply wonderful way to start off series 2.  We see a more emotional and intense Alleyn than we’ve seen before, and Mr. Malahide ably conveys his drive to solve Bunchie’s murder, his willingness to risk everything discover the blackmailer’s identity, and his guilt and remorse at inadvertently putting a friend in harm’s way.  He also shows us more of Alleyn’s human side when he rows with Troy, his expression and attitude conveying his woundedness and vulnerability at a glance.  His work is at war with his personal life!  However, all of the tension is humourously offset by his embarrassment and confusion at waking up in her flat (a highly enjoyable scene, worth the price of admission alone, and perfectly conveyed entirely by Mr. Malahide’s expression and demeanour.  😉  ) It only gets better when he’s caught by Fox in an “improper” situation.  There’s an (all too brief!) glimpse of Alleyn’s romantic side as he tells Troy what she means to him; it would’ve been so nice to have had more of that in series 1!  And Mr. Malahide also shows us some of Alleyn’s fierceness and loyalty when he finally manages to track down Bunchie’s murderer, but restrains himself from violence in the interest of seeing justice done.

As usual with the Alleyn productions, the lighting and cinematography are used marvelously to portray a Forties feeling, along with the sets, set decorations, cars, and the amazing wardrobe.  I say it every time I watch an Inspector Alleyn mystery, but it’s always true:  Mr. Malahide looks simply smashing in Forties fashions.  I adore those pinstriped single- and double-breasted suits.  Now, if only we could persuade him to swap his homburg for a fedora…

You can view a clip from “Death in a White Tie” below, courtesy of Admin (thanks!  🙂 ) or scroll down for a gallery.

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  6. John Gough says:

    Your plot summary was excellent: thorough and witty. Thanks for clarifying features that, on a first viewing, and not having read the book, I had puzzled over. (How did the posh doctor get into the blackmail act with the dodgy caterer, for example. And why did the target-practising husband kill himself.)
    Let me add two things.
    “Chellini” is “Benvenuto Cellini”, the famous Italian Renaissance sculptor, gentleman, and goldsmith.
    Also, the Troy exhibition is named as being about a big Pacific trip.
    So we see palm trees, and the giant stone heads of Easter Island.
    Also — this is the bit of clarification I am adding — the apparent full-regalia African warrior you spotted is actually a New Guinea warrior, in full bird-of-paradise regalia, from the Highlands of New Guinea — I think that is the region for that traditional costume and face-paint. (Yes, he does look superficially African: black skin, frizzy curly hair, and big head-dress. But when you’ve seen a Papua New Guinea warrior the image is unforgettable.)
    Thanks again!

  7. RFodchuk says:

    Thanks for your comments and the additional info! I think I went off the subtitles for spelling “Chellini” when I should’ve googled it instead, so my bad. And I probably had Black as He’s Painted in mind because I’d just read it. I didn’t realize that was a Papua New Guinea warrior, so that’s interesting to know. IIRC, Troy’s art show was something the writers invented just for the tv series, likely just to give her a bit more of a profile in the episode.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed the review. 🙂

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