Dublin Murders: Season 1   Books Included 
November 20, 2019 3:16 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Dublin Murders is drawn from Tana French's mystery novels In The Woods and The Likeness. Blending psychological mystery and darkness, each novel is led by a different detective or detectives from the same Dublin squad. The first book centers on a duo investigating the murder of a 12-year-old girl; The Likeness is about a young female detective who goes undercover to solve a murder in an elite college town. The thruline is an intense emotional connection between cop and crime, underpinned by a disturbing tremor from another influence.

This is a books included thread, but please refrain talking about books other than the first two ones that this season was based on, because those can be adopted for further seasons etc.
posted by KTamas (8 comments total)
So I haven't read the books (and I feel no urge to do that) but I am interested in what they changed and how well they weaved together the two books into one story.

Overall, I liked the show! It was a good murder mystery/psychological thriller. The leads were really strong and fairly complex, which was nice. I feel like the show depicted trauma well.

My only gripe is that I feel almost mislead by the creators; everything pointed towards that Adam/Rob will find what happened to his childhood friends, only to be pretty much explained away with something vaguely supernatural in the end. I don't know how it was in the books.

There were hints in retrospect about the whole "darkness in the woods" thing but everything pointed towards that it was just superstition. And yet.

Oh and I'm no expert in English/Irish accents but Adam/Rob didn't sound English to me at all and sounded Irish?? But someone who knows them better please correct me.
posted by KTamas at 3:21 AM on November 20, 2019

The book never explained what happened to Rob either, and I feel like the show actually gave more explanation with all those strong hints of some dark thing in the woods. My recollection of the book was that it wasn't nearly so heavy-handed with the hints of spooky stuff. Also, while I thought the actor who played Rob was great, I feel like Rob's downward spiral was done better in the book. Without Rob's decidedly unreliable/self-deceptive narration, some of the stuff he does seems to come out of nowhere. In some cases, I guess that works almost better? His cruelty to Cassie was appropriately shocking. But in general, I felt like I had a much stronger sense of who Rob was in the book than in the show.

Cassie though I loved equally as much in the show as I did in the books. They really cut a lot out of the plot of The Likeness to get it to fit in the show, which was somewhat disappointing to me, but was probably a smart choice. I thought the show got across the dynamics of the house pretty well in limited time, and I really liked the actor who played Daniel, he seemed exactly right.

One thing that I thought was interesting about show versus book: I don't know if it's just the visual medium and the actress playing Rosalind, but I thought that where the book only delicately hinted at the superstitious idea of Rosalind being some sort of fae fetch, the show made it seem much more likely. Maybe something about the juxtaposition of Cassie and Lexie's uncanny doppelgangers situation along with Cassie's "imaginary friend" thing, and just the sheer creepiness of Rosalind's confession. I also thought doing both books in one season really drew out the shared themes of identity and trauma.
posted by yasaman at 7:47 AM on November 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I agree with all that. The fifth book of the series had an explicitly supernatural event, which really put me off. I put the book away and didn't finish it until a couple of years later. I'd read all these books as police procedurals / character studies, and the supernatural messed-up my whole understanding of them. (Broadly speaking, if the supernatural exists, I don't know how you could solve lots of murders -- anything would be possible.)

However, after I finally finished The Secret Place, and I read some other reviews and, in particular, one very cogent analysis of these books, I saw things differently and changed my opinion. There's an undercurrent of the supernatural through all the books, not the least being the numerous coincidences (as in The Likeness) which are unrealistic. That's all intentional and I think the show made a very good decision to make this more overt.

I was super-excited when the first episode aired. And, as I mentioned in another thread, I was extremely weirded out that immediately, without any doubts, recognized the student house even though it appeared so early in the series that there was no reason to think that it would make an appearance then. It looked exactly like I had pictured it; enough so that having never been in Ireland and only French's descriptions in The Likeness, I recognized it as soon as the two officers drove up to question them (the knocked at the door and there was no answer).

Anyway, later episodes I sort of began to be a bit "meh" about. But . . . that climax with the reveals and Rob and Cassie's final conversation. That was brilliant. Made the whole season worth it, in my opinion.

I went two episodes into the show before I realized that the squad captain (or whatever his rank is) was the same actor who played Varys on Game of Thrones. Such a different character, almost an opposite.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:38 AM on November 23, 2019

I liked this overall, but it took me a while to warm up to the actor playing Rob/Adam. I'm also not all that keen on the idea to squish these two different novels into a single series, instead of just doing "Dublin Murders: In the Woods" and "Dublin Murders: The Likeness". The Likeness, particularly, could have done with a lot more development of the characters in the house. But they're both pretty interior books, with Rob's grappling with his memory and Cass with her identity as Cass or Lexi, so I guess a lot of that doesn't translate easily to the screen anyways.
posted by whir at 6:55 PM on November 25, 2019

I read The Likeness years ago, and I remember the book well, though I did not remember either the title or the author. So, when I first began watching this show, it took me a bit to realize that it was based on the book I'd read.

I didn't like that they mashed two books together. It made the story too convoluted. Rob being able to hide that he was Adam seemed like a huge stretch to me. I also didn't like the supernatural explanation for the children's disappearance, which felt wildly out of keeping with the rest of the series, and was rather lame anyway.

So... I guess what I'm saying is that I found there were some serious problems with the writing of this show that kept it from working as well as it should have.
posted by orange swan at 9:25 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

I read some other reviews and, in particular, one very cogent analysis of these books, I saw things differently and changed my opinion

Link plz.

I really enjoyed this. These are some of my favorite books ever (I've read the whole series several times), and they got most everything right or at least right enough. And yeah, the student house and casting of the students was perfect.
posted by biscotti at 12:14 PM on November 28, 2019

My only gripe is that I feel almost mislead by the creators; everything pointed towards that Adam/Rob will find what happened to his childhood friends, only to be pretty much explained away with something vaguely supernatural in the end.

I read a comment somewhere by the books' author saying she'd never intended them to be conventional murder mysteries with every loose end neatly resolved by the final page. Seeing the commercial possibilities, though, that's exactly how her publisher chose to market them, creating something of a false expectation among buyers.

That seems to have happened with the TV series too, leaving some viewers disappointed at its own lack of a satisfying conclusion. Both the books and the TV series were promoted in a way which promised to deliver something the author had deliberately decided to avoid.
posted by Paul Slade at 6:47 AM on December 1, 2019

I had this on the dvr for a long time before I got around to it, but I did enjoy it now that I've seen it. I think they did a reasonably good job keeping the general feel of the books while turning them into a more action oriented procedural.

There was a moment in the penultimate episode (I think) when they had Shane finding young Adam by the tree that I thought they were going to ruin the ending and just have the teenagers be responsible for the disappearances of Peter and Jamie. I know the lack of resolution for In the Woods is a real disappointment for some, but I would have been let down if the adaptation didn't keep that.

I do think The Likeness got short changed a bit - I felt the book portrayed the characters in a much more sympathetic way, and the toxic elements of their closeness felt more tragic because their friendships felt real. This adaptation makes it feel more like a mini-cult of Daniel, while also making Daniel a more malevolent figure. I did think the casting was good and the house was spot on. But there isn't any time for Cassie to connect with them, so it loses most of the melancholy of the novel for me.

I similarly wasn't a huge fan of the decision to have Rob/Adam's mom remind him that, actually, Peter and Jamie were kind of bullies. Overall the tv series has less time for friendships outside of the central Cassie-Rob dynamic, which is a reasonable narrative choice, but flattens out some of elements I liked in the books.

I do like the actor they cast for Mackey, and I'd be very interested in a second season - I personally find Broken Harbor to be the least emotionally interesting of the Dublin Murder Squad books, so I'd be fine relegating it to B plot status behind Faithful Place - I think they have O'Kelly positioned well to take over the Scorcher Kennedy role in that book and could give Conleth Hill more to do. Or they could do an all Mackey season with Faithful Place and The Secret Place - think of the timeline jumping they could play with.
posted by the primroses were over at 8:44 AM on February 23, 2020

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