'The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Set 3'
(3-Disc DVD / NR / 2008 / Acorn Media)
Overview: One of the most honored, prolific, and critically acclaimed modern crime writers, Ruth Rendell has been called this era’s “Queen of Crime.” Rendell ratchets up suspense like no other writer while exploring the peculiar human compulsions that lead to crime. Set 3 features five tales based on some of her most popular and acclaimed works, including The Lake of Darkness (Arts Council National Book Award), The Fallen Curtain (Edgar Award, Best Short Story), and the Inspector Wexford mystery Harm Done.
DVD Verdict: 'The Ruth Rendell Mysteries: Set 3' contains five more dramas of psychological suspense, based on Rendell's stories of compulsion, obsession, crossed signals, and haunted pasts. Like Sets 1 & 2, these mysteries include faithful scripts, surprising twists, and exquisite performances. The only let down is the very long 3-parter 'Going Wrong' as it is painfully slow (going backwards at some stages) and woefully un-attune to any form of viewers attention span. Telling the tale of a wealthy lout (James Callis) who has never lost his adolescent fixation on a girl (Josephine Butler) and doesn't intend to stop just because she's grown up and wants to marry another man, the story doesn't even have a 'mystery' to evoke the name of the series until the final 10 minutes of the entire 3 hour episode!
However, 'Harm Done' (featuring Detective Chief Inspector Wexford - the great George Baker) is probably the best of the bunch. Wexford faces growing public unrest over the release of a pedophile, an odd series of abductions, and the disappearance of a wealthy couple’s daughter from her bedroom.
In 'The Fallen Curtain' teenager Richard Clayton (Ben Brazier) remains haunted by a few unaccounted-for hours when he went missing as a boy. Co-starring Barbara Ewing, the piece is slow at times but the well-worked-out ending is definitely a relief - for both him and us.
'The Lake of Darkness' is an interesting piece about a bisexual businessman (Jerome Flynn) who wins the lottery and doesn't know how to gracefully give it away to needy people, despite best intentions. His bumbling philanthropy unintentionally ventures into dangerous territory when he tries to help an old woman whose son is a serial killer!
Lastly and we have the drab 'You Can’t Be Too Careful.' Along with the opener to the set 'Going Wrong,' these two are easily the only clunkers here. A tedious story, with obvious points of viewer realization laden throughout, the story is of a security-obsessed woman (Serena Evans - and on the front box-art cover) who takes on a new flatmate (Jane Hazlegrove) who doesn’t share her safety concerns. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs but does not come with any Special Features.