Detectives Rob Reilly (Killian Scott) and Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene) are at the centre of this new psychological crime thriller, which the BBC says will “deliver a dark psychological mystery with a tap root that drops deep down into Ireland’s past, foreshadows the future and brings insight to its present.”
The series is drawn from crime writer Tana French’s bestselling Dublin Murder Squad novels, and is written by Sarah Phelps – best-known for her Agatha Christie TV dramas and for her adaptation of JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy.
Each of the six novels is led by a different detective from the same team, but this eight-part TV adaptation will blend the first two novels – In the Woods and The Likeness – and will focus on detectives Reilly and Maddox.
Dublin Murders is set during the height of the Celtic Tiger financial boom of the millennium, and tells the story of two murder investigations led by “ambitious and charismatic” detectives Rob Reilly and Cassie Maddox.
According to the BBC’s synopsis, the victims are “a young talented ballerina who is found dead on an ancient stone altar; and a vivacious free-spirited woman, who is found stabbed in a roofless famine cottage.”
These deaths are seemingly unrelated, “but as we will discover, are actually knitted together by powerful shared themes – the macabre ‘red in tooth and claw’ elements of both stories, and their heart-thumping psychological thriller qualities.”
Writer and executive producer Sarah Phelps said: “Tana’s compelling novels are both nail-biting thrillers, enquiries into the nature of evil and heartbreaking stories of human frailty, love and loss. I couldn’t be more excited to be bringing The Dublin Murders to audiences.”
Saul Dibb, the drama’s lead director and executive producer, said in a statement: “Writers as good as Sarah Phelps are rare and I want people to be as excited to watch Dublin Murders as I was to first read her scripts – with each episode the powerful, gripping, atmospheric, brilliantly acted mini-movie they deserve.”
Killian Scott is set to play Rob Reilly, having previously starred in Strike, Love/Hate, and Ripper Street. As he joined the cast, he praised the drama’s “complex and dark exploration of memory, identity and the potentially devastating consequences of pursuing truth.”
Sarah Greene, who will star as Cassie Maddox, played Hecate Poole in Penny Dreadful and Maxine in the TV series Ransom. She’s also set to appear in upcoming Sally Rooney adaptation Normal People.
The actress said: “I’m delighted to be cast in Dublin Murders. To work alongside such talented people as Killian Scott, and the entire creative team is a joy. The writing is brilliant and dark and it’s thrilling to give Tana French’s words a new life on screen through the wonderful Sarah Phelps.”
Dublin Murders has a majority Irish cast, with Phelps saying she was in “total awe of our peerless cast of blazing Irish talent.”
This includes Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Frank, Moe Dunford as Sam, Leah McNamara as Rosalind, Ian Kenny as Phelan, Eugene O’Hare as Quigley, Jonny Holden as Damien with Conleth Hill as O’Kelly and Peter McDonald as Jonathan.
Where was Dublin Murders filmed?
The drama was filmed mainly in Dublin and Belfast.
One key location was Tollymore Forest Park in Northern Ireland, which covers 1,600 acres. It has previously appeared in Game of Thrones, and is now central to the plot and atmosphere of Dublin Murders.
Sarah Phelps recalls: “It was a big shoot. There was one time it was freezing, and everyone had to be in the woods, and it was like: now we’re going to pretend it’s August. In November! Absolutely freezing.”
We also see Crumlin Road Gaol (aka “The Crum”, a Victorian-era prison), Gasworks Business Park, and Cormac Street Car Park in Belfast, as well as Dublin Quays.
The Garda Station was filmed on Custom House Square in Belfast city centre.
When is Dublin Murders set?
The drama is set in 2006 (when the first novel in the Dublin Murder Squad series was written), but it flashes back to the 1980s as we see glimpses of a previous unsolved incident.
And while 2006 isn’t so long ago, there are still major differences: this is a pre-smartphone world, the Irish economy is in a very different place, and the internet has yet to become so central to everyone’s lives.
“It’s not really contemporary, because we start in 2006 and then we go backwards to the early 1980s and mid 80s and back up,” Sarah Phelps explains.
But then again, she’s never taken a typical approach to setting any of her dramas in the past, no matter how recent or distant: “Even when I’ve done period pieces like Dickens or the Christies, I’ve never seen them as period pieces. They’re us, but they haven’t got a Twitter feed. They haven’t got wifi. They are us, reacting to a tumultuous blood-soaked world.”