Simisola (1996)

“You’re well known for your great ideas about women.”

In Simisola Inspector Wexford is investigating the disappearance of a young black girl of Nigerian descent. She was last seen at an appointment at the local job centre. While investigating her disappearance, a counselor from the job centre is found murdered. Are the two cases related?

This highly entertaining television mystery based on a Ruth Rendall novel will keep you interested from beginning to end. Like all decent mysteries, the story deals with issues that are bigger than just the case under investigation. In Simisola, the issues under examination are discrimination–racial, class and gender. In the story, there are two sorts of people–the haves and the have-nots. The extremely wealthy dwell in huge mansions, and in one garden party scene, Inspector Wexford expresses his opinion that somehow, this ostentatious display of wealth is wrong. He is uncomfortable around the rich, and it shows. The have-nots in the film can be sorted into two groups–the violent criminal element, and the disenfranchised poor. For this investigation, Inspector Wexford has to enter both worlds–the world of the rich, and they often resent questions, and the world of the poor–the people who often seem anonymous and unimportant. Wexford is a great character. He’s an ‘old-style’ policeman. He never loses his cool, never appears flustered, and clearly his brain works overtime when solving the case. He’s a very solid character, and somehow we get the feeling that the case will be solved by his calm tenacity. There are many other great characters here–the flighty and flirty Ingrid, Kim the resentful, unsuitable mother, and the sweet crossing guard whose character shines through adversity. The conclusion of Simisola left questions, but overall, the production was satisfying for fans of British television mysteries.

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