wed 29/06/2022

Traces, Alibi review - pedigree cast battles implausible plot | reviews, news & interviews

Traces, Alibi review - pedigree cast battles implausible plot

Traces, Alibi review - pedigree cast battles implausible plot

Dundee-set forensic thriller has too many coincidences for its own good

Molly Windsor with Martin Compston, Laura Fraser and Jennifer Spence

Alibi is usually your one-stop shop for re-runs of Father Brown or Death in Paradise, so well done them for commissioning this new murder mystery.

It comes with a glittering pedigree, having been created by actor-turned-writer Amelia Bullmore (Scott & Bailey etc) and bestselling crime novelist Val McDermid, but despite a cracking cast it struggles to pass the credibility test.

Emma Hedges (Molly Windsor) is an aspiring young lab technician who’s landed herself a prestigious job with the Scottish Institute for Forensic Science and Anatomy (SIFA) in Dundee, where she works under the auspices of Professor Sarah Gordon (Laura Fraser). Though Emma has been living in Manchester, Dundee is her home town, and she’s barely back before history starts catching up with her.

Part of her training is to complete an online course where she must identify a mystery corpse. Imagine her horror when the aforesaid cadaver corresponds uncannily to that of her murdered mother, found in a shallow grave 18 years earlier, slain by person(s) unknown. Emma’s brilliant new future suddenly looks set to be an anguished journey through the past.

Molly Windsor in Traces (Alibi)Emma re-establishes contact with her Dundee childhood, via her old friend Skye (Jamie Marie Leary) and her mother Izzy (Laurie Brett), and despite her demanding new employment she’s well up for a night on the razz. She isn’t particularly surprised when she wakes up to find a strange man in her bed.

But her tragic back-story won’t let it lie. She turns amateur detective and goes looking for clues about her mother’s unexplained death, but finds more questions than answers. Emma gets reacquainted with her father Drew (John Gordon Sinclair, looking as if he’s had a bruising encounter with a cement-mixer), who’s a semi-comatose old pub-rocker with a motorbike fetish. However, when Emma discovers he’d been sleeping with her mother after they’d split up and after she’d married Emma’s stepfather, Jimmy, she’s filled with unease. Even worse is the revelation that her mother’s body had been hacked into pieces, news which had been concealed from her (this is juxtaposed with a forensics class in which the technicians analyse sawn-up pig’s bones).

Traces is an easy watch, but has a bad habit of spraying coincidences and startling revelations like machine-gun fire, as if it’s frantically crushing 12 episodes into six. Episode two brought the arrival of… good grief, it’s Martin Compston as Emma’s instant love interest Daniel McAfee! Amazingly, he happens to have a connection to the fatal nightclub fire that Emma and her crime-lab comrades are investigating. Given a couple more flukes and the odd miracle, Emma will undoubtedly get a result. You just might have trouble believing it.

Imagine Emma's horror when the aforesaid cadaver corresponds uncannily to that of her murdered mother


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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I just finished a review of this thing asking if we “across the pond” would even be watching if the rest of the entertainment industry was ip and running. Interesting question and my answer is a resounding “no way.” The script is absurd as all the adult professionals seem to flitter around this sullen GenXer and her needs. One reviewer said the premise is a combination of The Killing and CSI. They made a huge mistake concentrating on The Killing’s dark ( but grownup) atmosphere instead of letting the lab geeks do their stuff. What we’re left with is a lackluster Nancy Drew- meets The Hunger Games heroine. And, after two episodes, I really don’t care who murdered her mother. Back to Waking the Dead!

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