Oline H. Cogdill

I’ve been binging a lot lately on British mystery series that are just now being made available to U.S. audiences.

These series are distributed by Acorn with DVD and Blu-ray sets available from select retailers and catalogs, and direct from Acorn at (888) 870-8047 or AcornOnline.com. Each offering has extra features, interviews, etc.

Here’s a few that I highly recommend. And, with the holidays coming up, these make great presents.

THE FALL: The Fall is without a doubt one of the best psychological thrillers around. The plots are intense and the characterizations delve deep into the myriad motives of the characters.

Set in Belfast, The Fall revolves around Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, played by Gillian Anderson (yes, of X-Files fame), and serial killer Paul Spector, played by Jamie Dornan (yep, that Fifty Shades of Grey guy).

Gibson knows that Spector is a serial killer, but has not been able to bring him to justice. Plus, who would believe that a serial killer could be a grief counselor and family man as Spector is. Gibson has been accumulating evidence against Spector, but is thwarted by her superiors and his defense team, who accuse her of an inappropriate relationship with him.

MIDSOMER MURDERS, JOHN BARNABY’S FIRST CASES: Who doesn’t love the highly entertaining Midsomer Murders? This collection offers all you need to know about the cozy villages of Midsomer County, and includes Series 14, the first complete series starring Neil Dudgeon as DCI John Barnaby, and Series 15, the last season with Jason Hughes as DS Ben Jones.

Through the years, many guest stars have appeared in Midsomer Murders, including Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey), Edward Fox (Gandhi), James Callis (Battlestar Galactica), Sinéad Cusack (Marcella), Martine McCutcheon (Love Actually, EastEnders), Kate Ashfield (Shaun of the Dead), Kevin Doyle (Downton Abbey), and Harriet Walter (The Crown).

MARCELLA, Series 1: This new crime series follows Detective Sergeant Marcella Backland (Anna Friel), who leaves her job on the police force for her family, only to have her husband leave her. Returning to the murder squad of the London Metropolitan Police, she begins investigating one of her old cases—a serial murderer known as the Grove Park Killer seems to have resurfaced. Marcella finds it difficult to juggle her work and fragile state of mind because of her divorce.

GEORGE GENTLY: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION: This collection will be available December 12, just in time for the holidays. Based on the novels of Alan Hunter, George Gently captures the mid-1960s and the changing times. Tony nominee Martin Shaw stars as Inspector George Gently, an incorruptible cop transplanted from London to Northumberland. He’s assisted by Detective Inspector John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby) and Detective Sergeant Rachel Coles (Lisa McGrillis), who help George navigate the ‘60s.

AGATHA CHRISTIE’S MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS: Just forget about that new version out with Kenneth Branagh. While I prefer the 1974 version, this 2010 made-for-television movie is pretty good. That’s because David Suchet knows how Hercule Poirot should be played. The all-star cast include Toby Jones (Tru), Eileen Atkins (Doc Martin), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), David Morrrissey (The Walking Dead), Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), and Barbara Hershey (Hannah and Her Sisters).