Okay, let’s be honest with each other. It’s mid-February and winter is dragging its feet and the snowy blues seem like they will NEVER LEAVE! You look out the window and its 14 degrees out and grey and yucky and summer feels like it will never brighten the skies again. Yikes! So humans do the next logical thing. We fantasize about a nice tropical getaway, a paradise with shimmering blue-green water, palm trees, eighty-five degree breezes and a chilled, sparkling glass of murder. Wait, what? That last bit doesn’t fit? Oh, but what if you’re a sleuth, keen on solving mysteries, including that most morbid of its kind: murder? Or better yet, what if that’s your job!
Imagine being able to delve into the BRM (also known as Basic Rules of Murder) with humid breezes floating in through the windows that always reveal an ocean view! Those rules dictate that people commit murder for one of two reasons: love or money. Or more accurately, jealousy and greed and just because you are enjoying sand squishing between your toes doesn’t mean those rules change. Your paradise bungalow has a palm tree growing up through the bedroom roof; a street market sells fresh coconut juice just outside your police headquarters and it’s unlikely the speed limit every goes above fifty. Sure, you sometimes have someone who’s been stabbed, shot, fallen from a cliff, drowned (or fished from the ocean without being the victim of drowning), poisoned or electrocuted, but hey, the rest of the time the pace is leisurely and the view? Well, it’s to die for!
Sorry, couldn’t help myself!
I know, most people just want the tropical getaway and the murder part is, well… optional to say the least. Probably avoidable at all costs 100% of the time. But on the fictional British island of Saint Marie in the wildly popular TV series Death in Paradise, the two are so entangled that you can’t have one without the other. In fact, why would you want it any other way, given the name of the show? A small, plucky police force on the island serves the local population and tourists alike with dedication; chasing bag-snatchers, checking parking meters, solving murders and contending with new Detective Inspectors sent over from the UK. Saint Marie has an unusual history, having been French, English, French and English again (with possibly one other country ruling them at some point) and their ties as protectorate island are strong(ish) with the motherland. And although the local police are usually from the community of Saint Marie, as is their Police Commissioner, the police detectives of rank are usually from London.
What could be better than hanging out with local, laid-back Officers Dwayne Myers, Fidel Best, J. P. Hooper, DS Camille Bordey and Florence Cassell, and their proper (and prudish) UK counterparts, DI Richard Poole, DI Humphrey Goodman and DI Jack Mooney? And just in case you thought that sounds a bit crowded for a tiny Caribbean islands police force, let me reassure you that only some of these characters appear together. The charm of the show is its ability to tell fantastic (and not gory or gruesome) crime stories that keep you on edge where you can’t guess “whodunit” AND also its ability to switch out characters convincingly for equally likable new ones. The first couple of seasons are dynamite as Richard Poole, who is the epitome of the suit-wearing, tee-totaling, by-the books Detective Inspector, navigates his new coworkers, Dwayne, Fidel and Camille.
For seasons 3 through 6, Humphrey charms with his detective savvy and his sweet, klutzy nature, making the best of his island time with Dwayne, Camille and later J. P. and Florence. The most recent DI is Jack Mooney (not to be confused with the similar word Money, which was misprinted on his business cards), an Irishman with a lot of heart and the helpful savoir faire of Dwayne, J. P. and Florence. Additional recurring characters make the setting feel lived in and real, just like the postcard perfect island where it’s filmed: Guadeloupe. It’s a show that never fails to entertain and gets better with age, as it is on its 8th season and just keeps cruising ahead to the beat of those island tunes.
One of my favorite aspects of watching the show is seeing how the team solves the case in each episode, but the quirks and plot twists each time generally mean I can only guess at the killer! I have probably only solved 5% of the mysteries, just because the stories are so good. What you can predict is the upbeat opening song, the quirky plots, Dwayne trying to find a date and the Detective Inspector connecting odd dots to solve the case. Each episode is like an invitation to go on an all-expenses paid vacation to paradise and join the best police team assembled in recent years.
So put on your best hibiscus print shirt, pour yourself something sweet with coconut milk and pineapple and imagine those palm trees outside the window. Chase those winter blues away, banish them for the rest of the season! Because you too can become an armchair DI, a sleuth who is immersed in the tropics to solve murders with some of the freshest and funniest characters on the British tellie and join me in Paradise.
See you on the beaches!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Caitlin Horton is a 20-something reader, seamstress, and history buff. She lives a life blessed in the knowledge that she is God’s child, and her life has a purpose in the scope of His plan. She encourages her readers to remember, every day can be like Bilbo’s “adventure” if you’re willing to take the “ordinary” and add some “extra” in front of it!