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Aidan Turner stars in The Suspect on ABC

The Suspect ★★★

Dr Joe O’Loughlin (Aidan Turner) seems to have it all. A successful and smoothly confident psychologist, he treats patients at the City of Westminster Hospital in addition to consulting at a private practice, and he’s a best-selling author. He has a beautiful wife, Julianne (Camilla Beeput), and a delightful young daughter, Charlie (Uma Warner), and they adore him. And, in the attention-grabbing nail-biter of an opening of this five-part, 2022 crime thriller, he triumphs over daunting challenges to become a national hero. As well, because he’s played by Aidan Turner, he’s blessed with leading-man good looks.

Aidan Turner’s role in The Suspect makes good use of the actor’s charisma.Credit: ITV

Consistent with many of the choices made by Turner since his heart-throb days as the title character in Poldark (2015-19, Britbox), in The Suspect he’s chosen a role that initially makes good use of his charisma on screen and then works to disrupt the early impressions. As the drama unfolds, dark doubts emerge about Joe and questions about his motivations and actions gradually creep in. There’s an escalating sense of threat about this man and what he might do to protect the life he’s built, with Turner’s capacity to charm knowingly deployed to unsettling effect.

Along the same lines, in Fifteen-Love (2023, Binge), playing Glenn Lapthorn, Turner starts out as an internationally lauded tennis coach, a successful star in his field who has a loyal wife and loving family. Then allegations emerge about his relationship with a female teenage champion and disrupt his life, personally and professionally.

Here, shadows gather around the initially rosy impression of Dr Joe. A worrying medical diagnosis is delivered by his long-time friend, Dr Gerald Owens (Adam James). Joe’s patient, Bobby Moran (Bobby Schofield), is a troubled and troubling young man. Then the body of a woman is found in a shallow grave in a local cemetery and DI Ruiz (Shaun Parkes) and DS Devi (Anjli Mohindra) are quickly on the case. The victim’s body reveals oddly specific and shocking injuries, and Joe soon finds himself caught up in the investigation.

Adapted by Peter Berry (Gangs of London, The Last Enemy) from a 2014 novel by Michael Robotham (The Secrets She Keeps), the thriller keeps ratcheting up the stakes as the plot rockets along, taking unexpected twists and surprising turns. “This is a well-planned nightmare,” Joe laments to Gerald after he seeks refuge in his friend’s swish apartment following an argument with Julianne.

DS Devi (Anjli Mohindra) and DI Ruiz (Shaun Parkes) are on the case of a string of murders in The Suspect.Credit: ITV

As his well-ordered life spirals out of control, Joe’s view, at least the one declared to those around him, is that he’s being set up. The assured therapist, now hidden behind a bushy beard, is reduced to an unkempt and haunted mess as he turns self-appointed detective in a bid to identify the source of the chaos erupting around him.

As the body count mounts, directors James Strong (Vigil, Broadchurch) and Camilla Strom Henriksen (Grace) repeatedly use overhead shots of roads, freeways and railway lines, suggesting connections between people and places. Sweeping aerial shots over cities and rural landscapes have become increasingly common in TV drama since drone technology made such bird’s-eye views cheaper and more easily accessible: no helicopters required. They’re often evocative, as well as being a handy linking device between scenes. Here, as the increasingly tangled tale plays out, hidden links are exposed and events that might initially appear to be strange coincidences are revealed to be something else entirely.

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