Roush Review: Multiple Mysteries in 'Dublin Murders'

Matt Roush
Review Starz

Detectives don't come much more broken than the very flawed pair at the core of the engrossingly complex Dublin Murders, an eight-part mystery that gives double the value, as master adapter Sarah Phelps (And Then There Were None) tackles the first two novels in Tana French's acclaimed Dublin Murder Squad series.

Don't speak to Brit transplant Rob Reilly (Killian Scott) and his ambitious partner, Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene), about conflicts of interest. Crossing the line comes naturally to this moody duo—especially to Rob, whose outsider status in this ultra-Irish police department is further complicated by his personal but secret connection to their new case (from 2007's In the Woods), involving the possibly ritualistic murder of a 13-year-old found in the same eerie woods where several kids disappeared 21 years earlier.

The investigation triggers deeply repressed memories of childhood trauma, and things get even weirder at the season's midpoint when Cassie gets caught up in the storyline of 2008's The Likeness. This assignment takes Cassie back to her previous gig as an undercover cop, when a lookalike is found fatally stabbed, bearing the name of Lexie, which was Cassie's undercover moniker from an earlier case.

Who was this doppelganger? Why does she call herself Lexie, a name with resonance from Cassie's own tragic childhood? To find out, her manipulative former boss Frank Mackey (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) urges Cassie to assume the faux Lexie's identity and move in with the victim's bohemian roommates, who don't know their friend is dead.

Starz

Inserting herself into this tangled web of relationships proves to be a treacherous task, as is Rob's odyssey of self-deception. And while the whodunits in each contemporary case are satisfyingly resolved, greater and more disturbing mysteries of the soul linger. It's a refreshing if unsettling reminder that life is full of unanswered and haunting questions. Which is maybe what you wouldn't expect in a detective drama, even one from Europe (which tends to raise the bar on procedurals), but that's what makes French's books so memorable and haunting.

'Dublin Murders' Stars Tease Dark Cases and Even Darker Characters

'Dublin Murders' Stars Tease Dark Cases and Even Darker Characters

Killian Scott and Sarah Greene lead in the show based on Tana French's 'Dublin Murder Squad' novels.

Here's hoping there will be more Dublin Murders to come, because the next books in the series—2010's Faithful Place and 2012's Broken Harbour in particular—are even better.

Dublin Murders, Series Premiere, Sunday, November 10, 8/7c, Starz