BBC Radio 4, 3 September 2012
This Afternoon Drama reintroduced us to DCI Sue Craven (Maxine
Peake), who this time was involved in a complicated tale of murder, infidelity, loneliness and schizophrenia.
The plot was a complicated one - too intricate to be explained here, but Amelia Bullmore's
script had a basic theme running through it; the problem of finding a suitable identity for oneself. The police were very
interested in Richard Coombs (Paul Hilton), a lonely recluse with a modest occupation, who had the chance to assume the lifestyle
of Lionel King, a well-to-do local business person. Coombs revelled in the role for a start, but later on became frustrated;
in the search for a role in life, he found himself rather lost in the end.
Craven seemed to engage in a similar search - although professionally very contented,
she had a difficult time trying to sustain her love life. To all intents and purposes, she was the 'other woman' in a love-triangle,
a role she actively hated; but try as she might, she could envisage little or no alternative for herself. In a surprise plot-twist
at the end, Craven was cast in a very different role in the relationship; this only served to increase her confusion still
Stylistically speaking, Looking for Mr. King was structured as a first-person
narrative told by Craven. On the one level this gave her a sense of power, of being able to (re-)construct the story on her
own terms. On another level, however, it provided her with a sense of security - at least listeners would be prepared to listen
to her as she tried to find an identity for herself.
Craven is a prime example of a police drama that combines suspense with
a strong sense of characterization. I look forward to hearing more installments from the DCI's life in the near future.