Review: “Strike – Lethal White”
Prior to the pandemic and lockdown, I hadn’t paid too much attention to the Strike series, fearing that it would be a poor approach to the murder mystery/detective genre – a form of fiction that I am a huge fan of. But after binge-watching the entire series during a very drizzly and bleak weekend, I’ve actually become a fan of Strike.
Its gripping and dark nature also features wonderful cinematography of London, which has acted as a delightful treat for myself, especially during these months of being in lockdown.
Veteran turned detective Cormoran Strike and protégé Robin Ellacott (portrayed by the brilliant Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger) return as the dynamic pair in Lethal White, the fourth season of Strike. The ever-present question of will-they-won’t-they still persists between Cormoran and Robin, with Robin’s dislikable husband, Matt (Kerr Logan), remaining in the background, waiting to discourage Robin from her life choices and friendship with the brooding private detective.
Continuing on from the dramatic events of Career of Evil, Lethal White picks up from where we last saw Cormoran and Robin: during Robin’s nuptials. Fast-forward a year later and they are dragged into a 20-year-old murder case. A young man named Billy Knight (Joseph Quinn) breaks into the agency office with blood-soaked hands and a silver knife. Carving an outline of a horse into the wall, Billy begs for Cormoran’s help, stating that as a young boy he bore witness to the murder and burial of a young girl. Before divulging too much detail, Billy flees thanks to the untimely arrival of the agency’s latest temp secretary, Denise (her brief appearance – as played by Suzanne Toase – adds for some wonderful comic relief). While working on Billy’s case, Cormoran becomes embroiled in another investigation, involving deplorable and neurotic Conservative minister Jasper Chiswell (Robert Glenister), who has come forward to seek assistance on a current blackmail campaign, led by Billy’s left-wing brother, Jimmy Knight (Nick Blood).
Although not as dark as its predecessor, Lethal White provides us with a classic gritty detective show that keeps you engaged throughout the four-parter series. With a layered performance from the wonderful Tom Burke, we get to explore the relationships with the new characters Lorelei (Natalie Gumede) and ex-fiancée Charlotte (Natasha O’Keeffe). Burke highlights the intricacy of Cormoran’s mind, including flashbacks into his service time in the British Army and how this has affected both his mental and physical health, bringing to the forefront the complexities of living with a physical disability.
Robin’s character still has a way to go before she feels properly fleshed out. However, Lethal White has allowed her to grow not only through her personal life but also professionally. In this, we get to see Robin go undercover in Parliament – acting as Chiswell’s goddaughter – before transforming into gothic shop assistant Becky. The relationship between Robin and Matt is just as strained, if not even more so than it was before, including a tense confrontation between Robin and Matt about his former lover, Sarah (Antonia Kinley). If the BBC and Warner Bros. do decide to adapt the next novel in the Strike series, then I would love to see Robin’s character evolve even more so, providing her with more chances to hone her detective and personal life skills.
The DVD for Strike offers a brief insight into the production for Lethal White, featuring snippets of interviews with cast members Tom Burke, Holliday Grainger, and Robert Glenister. The featurette provides a reason why they enjoy the stories and the characters that they’re playing so much. At four minutes long, this featurette feels as though it is showcasing a more in-depth look into the production and the cast. If, like myself, you’re a budding film fanatic, then this may leave you wanting more.
If the lure of the looming winter months has you itching for some compelling stories, or if you’re wishing to explore a new detective series in a similar vein to that of the BBC’s Sherlock, then Lethal White is the perfect companion for you, featuring a brilliant cast and a gripping plot that will leave you hooked.
Lethal White is out now on DVD.