The Cane Field Killings, review: unambitious police procedural plods along

Back in the present, Reyka is struggling to crack the murder of a woman dismembered in a sugar cane field – on land disputed by black villagers and a white landowner. Overwhelmed by the pressures of work and motherhood, she makes an eye-wateringly awkward pass at her aging boss while a neon sign saying “Daddy Issues” flashes behind her. 

Her mother, still racked by guilt at the kidnapping, wants the family to return to the UK where Reyka worked for Scotland Yard. But after testifying against Speelman’s release at a parole hearing, she can’t resist visiting him in jail. 

The power dynamic between convict and cop is flipped immediately, and her former captor dangles the promise of forbidden knowledge – about her past and the new case – in exchange for repealing the testimony. If it sounds like a watered down version of The Silence of the Lambs, that’s because it is. The duo conjure none of the infatuated chemistry that entangled Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter. 

The mystery deepens when another body is discovered among the sugar cane. Desperate for answers, Reyka seems destined to fall back into the clutches of her abuser. Yet there’s a peculiar lack of jeopardy that makes the prospect less upsetting than it should be – and with this sort of material, it really should be.  

The rest of the series is available on All 4 from today, but there’s not much to binge on. The best lines erupt unexpectedly and linger in the clammy air “like rotten fruit”, as one officer describes the stench of death blowing through the cane.  

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