Buying a chunk of Amazonian rainforest sounds like a good way to protect it from the illegal loggers and coca plant farmers who are destroying its eco-system. Especially if the land is strategically sited so it blocks their path to the national park where their destructive efforts are focused. However, within days of arriving at his 100-acre patch of Peruvian rainforest, Charlie Hamilton James realises he’s been a bit naive.
He accepts the impoverished locals’ need to make a living, but even approaching some of them to ask about their activities is dangerous and Charlie’s not keen on being shot. “Conservation is a luxury only enjoyed by the rich,” he sighs as he photographs the extraordinarily diverse wildlife. And, after a difficult confrontation with the previous owner of the land, he admits, “the more I understand [the problem], the less I understand it.”
You can’t fault Quirke for atmosphere. Its version of 1950s Dublin (all brown interiors and sooty streets) makes a fine backdrop for the seedy intrigues of its plotting. This is a world where human warmth is doomed and the only cheer to be found is at the bottom of a whiskey bottle – where Quirke certainly looks hard enough.
After last week’s painful revelation, young Phoebe is striking out on her own, refusing to acknowledge her father. When she takes up with a louche Englishman (Lee Ingleby) we glimpse an underworld of drugs and nude photographs that may connect to a dead woman in Quirke’s morgue.
As last time, the lines of tension in the crime story are fairly slack, but the emotional heart of the tale is between Quirke and his lovely sister-in-law Sarah, who are pining for each other something rotten. Gabriel Byrne and Geraldine Somerville play off each other beautifully.
With the finale looming, In the Flesh now really means business. The Bafta-ennobled zombie drama at last delves into its back story, then catapults itself towards a thrilling resolution. We learn more about Partially Deceased Syndrome – via a visit to the secret lab of an amusingly conceited government minister – and about both the Undead Prophet disciple Simon and Amy’s condition.
The traditional mix of disturbing imagery and affecting exchanges is bolstered by a drive to tie up loose ends – at least for now.