The Loch Ness Monster is one of those monster tales that has always fascinated me.
Does it, or did Nessie ever exist? Could it have been a dinosaur that somehow survived? A real monster lurking under the water? Or a figment of many imaginations? A legend that somehow became more real than reality?
The myth provides some of the backstory for the atmospheric new six-part crime drama Loch Ness that will stream on Acorn TV through July 24. It began June 19 so now you can start bingeing, because you will not be satisfied with watching just episode at a time. (A screener of the first four episodes was provided for review.)
Scotland’s famous loch is a stunning place to visit, so naturally it makes an evocative setting for the imaginative Loch Ness, written by Stephen Brady (Fortitude, Vera). The small town of Lochnafoy relies on its monster, Nessie, for its tourist trade. Without the legend of Nessie, most people would not have heard of the town. And local residents aren’t above “creating” their own monsters, cobbling animal skeletons to resemble a Nessie, and posting the photos. It brings in the press, and visitors. It’s good for business.
But murder isn’t good for business.
D.S. Annie Redford (Laura Fraser) is called in to solve her first murder case—or maybe cases. The body of local resident Niall Swift, a piano teacher, is found at the foot of Carn Mohr Mountain and, in an unrelated situation, an isolated human heart turns up on the loch shore. The deaths rock the small town’s residents who wonder if the killer is one of them.
Suspicion falling on local residents is a common theme in crime fiction, but Loch Ness rises above the clichéd for a gripping tale of a community and a woman juggling her career and her family life, especially her stubborn teenage daughter, Evie.
Loch Ness also becomes a female buddy series as Annie Redford teams up with DCI Lauren Quigley (Siobhan Finneran, who played Clare on Happy Valley and scheming maid Sarah O’Brien on Downton Abbey).
The series also features Don Gilet as forensic profiler, Blake Albrighton, who assists on the case. He has an unusual way of working but is known for getting results.
Laura Fraser—so terrific as the coolly lethal Lydia on Breaking Bad—is equally effective as an insightful detective trying to prove her skills to her colleagues, and herself. The scenes with Fraser and Finneran provide some of the most tense and intelligent.
The shots of the untamed nature near Lochnafoy are gorgeous and will make you want to book a trip to Scotland tomorrow—or after you’ve seen all six episodes.
Photos: Laura Fraser, left in both photos, and Siobhan Finneran right in both photos; photos courtesy Acorn TV