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Audio Drama Review


A Kate Brannigan Mystery
Clean Break


Written by: Val McDermid
Starring: Charlotte Coleman, John Lloyd Fillingham and Noreen Kershaw
BBC Radio Crimes
RRP: £9.25
ISBN: 978 1 4084 6846 3
Available 05 May 2011

Manchester-based private eye Kate Brannigan is not amused when she is woken up in the middle of the night and informed that a Monet has been stolen from a stately home where she arranged security. Feeling that it's her responsibility to get it back, she decides to investigate - and after talking to the insurers, she discovers that the robbery was just the latest of a series of art thefts at British stately homes. There have been three identical burglaries in the past nine months, and an international gang seems to be implicated in all of them. Accompanied by her boyfriend Richard, Kate sets off on a chase across Europe that brings her head to head with organised crime...

Clean Break was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1998 and stars the late Charlotte Coleman as private detective Kate Brannigan. Coleman was famous for a number of roles in the '80s/'90s including Sue Peters in Worzel Gummidge; Marmalade Atkins in a number of Marmalade Atkins series and Jess in 1990s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. She also played Scarlett in 1994's Four Weddings and a Funeral.

The story revolves around Brannigan and her insistence on getting to the bottom of a string of art thefts on wealthy properties. Her investigation takes her across Europe where she uncovers who is paying small time criminals money to steal priceless artefacts to order.

There are some genuinely well thought out ideas here. I loved the phone calls between Kate and Richard as they drive across Europe - with Richard ringing and singing a song that reflects where they are. However, on the negative side there were a couple of instances where Coleman sounded like she didn't understand what she was saying - she was simply reading the script for the first time. And the final twist (which isn't necessary anyway) seems to make no sense. Without spoiling anything would someone really agree to buy something and then keep it hidden? What's the point of spending a small fortune if you can't show it off to friends and family?

But those are only slight moans with what is otherwise a pretty faultless audio production. This is well worth adding to your audio crime collection.


Darren Rea

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Kate Brannigan: Clean Break (BBC Radio Crimes) - Val McDermid
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