Synopsis of Above Suspicion

PosterA beautiful teenage girl has been missing for five days.  When her dead body is found hidden on waste ground, DCI Langton heads up the murder enquiry.

Over a period of eight years, there have been six virtually identical murders of women, all found with their hands tied with their stockings or tights, and strangled in the same way as his victim.  All the murdered women are middle aged prostitutes, their tough lives reflected in the brutal circumstances of their deaths.  Six victims, no clues, and cold cases hard to solve, but the latest, Melissa, was a teenage student, middle-class and from a good family - not the usual profile.

DC ANNA TRAVIS, a young rookie detective, joins LANGTON's investigation, as cover for one of his team who is off sick.  The relationship between the hardened detective and the young woman is a pivotal and emotionally charged one.  Fresh out of training school, Anna watches her new boss cut corners and drive his team into exhaustion as their killer continues to evade detection.  

The first break for the police comes when it is discovered that all the murdered women, bar the latest victim, knew each other. Over twenty years ago, at various times they had all lived in the same house in Manchester.

The house was run as a brothel and, at long last, they have a suspect.  He is ANTHONY DUFFY, the son of the woman who ran it.  However his name and circumstances are totally different now.  He is an established actor, known as ALAN DANIELS, who already has a high UK profile and is about to break into Hollywood movies.  

Alan Daniels may be the police's prime suspect but they have not one shred of evidence to prove he is the killer.  Daniels is handsome, wealthy, and has buried his past deep.  He also has a strong alibi for the time of the most recent murder: he was filming in Cornwall.

A prime suspect with such a high profile severely hampers the enquiry.  The police know that if it becomes pubic knowledge that they were even interviewing Daniels, the media could destroy his career, and the subsequent fall out if he is eventually found innocent would be nuclear.  Without more than circumstantial evidence, the case is stalled.

Alan Daniels is questioned discreetly.  He maintains his innocence and is very helpful and polite to the police.  It really comes down to Langton's gut feeling that this affluent and famous actor is a serial killer.  Interviewing him is like walking through a minefield; here is a handsome man of keen intelligence who is a talented and skilled performer.  No wonder the case against him looks like folding.

A profiler is brought in to observe the interviews.  Unable to take part directly in any of the sessions, the profiler immerses himself in details of the suspect's life and background.  His final conclusion is that Daniels is a devious and dangerous sociopath.

Langton embarks on a risky course which he hopes will result in Daniels' arrest without any accusation of police entrapment. DC Anna Travis is his Mata Hari.  She is encouraged to befriend Daniels in the hope he might somehow incriminate himself.  Anna is chosen because Daniels has already made flirtatious approaches to her whilst the police searched his elegant apartment. The profiler warns that such approaches are typical of sociopaths; they need to feel they are in control.  Travis must handle him with great caution.  She must not allow Daniels to win her trust.  Equally, if he feels she is betraying him, she will find herself in a potentially very dangerous situation.

Travis starts to date Alan Daniels. The young naive officer is very much in awe of the movie star, his invitation to the ballet, to dinner, etc.  Daniels is the epitome of elegance and sophistication. The two of them dine together at the Ivy where of course he is recognized. He is all charm and care towards Anna, confiding to her his continuing fear that somehow all his fame will be ripped from him because all those years ago, he lived in a house used as a brothel.

Alan Daniels is not only charm personified, he is also very believable.  He asks Anna why the police are hounding the wrong man, and admits it is starting to get to him.  His past should not be held against him.  If they continue to question him, it will get out and, even though he is innocent, his career will be destroyed.

Anna Travis feels caught between two dominating men; her boss Langton, and the beguiling Alan Daniels.  

Source: ITV official press-kit
Author: Lynda La Plante
Date: November 7, 2008

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