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Director: Declan O'Dwyer

Writer: Patrick Harbinson
Based on characters created by Val McDermid.

Starring: Robson Green, Naima Imani Lett, Brad Hawkins, Dell Johnson, Ryan Rutledge, Drew Waters...

Run time: 87 minutes

Genre: Mystery/crime

Available on DVD

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Dr. Tony Hill is brought over to Texas to testify against a former military man who has been accused of slaughtering his family -- a wife and two young kids. The D.A. wants to know if the accused is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from his tour of duty in Iraq, as his defense lawyer claims. Why Dr. Hill? The accused was the prime suspect in the rape of a 15-year-old girl in Bradfield, England where Tony interviewed him about the rape but the suspect was transferred back to the states and discharged from the military before he could be charged with the crime.

Dr. Hill is pretty convinced that it isn't a case of PTSD but what puzzles him is that everyone is in such a rush to put the guy away in prison or execute him. No one is really looking at the evidence or seriously asking if the guy really did kill his wife and kids. Or did someone else?

I realize that the writer is going for a "fish out of water" story with Dr. Hill in an unfamiliar setting (Texas), surrounded by people who don't want to listen to him or his ideas (the sheriff, the deputy, the D.A., the defense team, and the accused, just to name a few). To further isolate him, he has no direct access to Alex Fielding (Simone Lahbib), his sounding board. Oh, sure, he calls her but he just talks into the phone in his motel room and we watch him while he talks into the phone. I know it's supposed to give the viewer some idea of what's going on in the good doctor's mind. It's been done before. Better. The ploy didn't work very well in this plot. I'll grant you that Dr. Hill is quirky, but his quirkiness just didn't fit.

The pacing was of the story was all wrong. Usually the pace is very fast, with lots of quick camera cuts. The viewer has to pay close attention in order to keep up. This story moved along so slowly that I could have sworn the 87 minute run time was at least 120 minutes. I also quickly tired of the camera trick where the motion jumps forward every now and then. Once was more than enough of that little gimmick.

There were a few moments when the story held some interest until the writer "threw the kitchen sink" into the mix. Was the dead wife an unfaithful wife? If so, who was she having sex with? To hear some talk about her it might have been easier to ask who wasn't she having sex with! The various characters are quick and easy with their accusations. No one seems to bother with evidence. No one seems to question anything. If the accused husband was holding a gun and shot at the police as they arrived, why were the victims killed with a knife. Where is the murder weapon? Oh, by the way, somebody said the accused was a drug dealer or was it a drug user. Or both? Did the guy confess or didn't he? What a muddled mess this story becomes.

The only thing I can say that I found clever, even though I could see it coming a mile away, as they say, was when Dr. Hill went to his rental car (which by the way, why was it such a dumpy car? I get the "joke" about the motel room. But what's with the car?!?), opened the door on the right-hand side of the car and found himself sitting in the passenger seat rather than the driver's seat. (Steering wheels are on the right-hand side in British cars, get it?) Now that was funny. And I enjoyed the gimmick both times the writer used it.

Originally I thought this episode was the first episode in Season 5. Apparently it is being marketed as a stand-alone episode. It is not included in the boxed set of Season 5 episodes. I would strongly suggest that you rent a copy of this program and watch it before you purchase it. I suspect you won't be that keen on adding it to your "Wire in the Blood" collection.

As for the title, "Prayer of the Bone" I haven't a clue as to what the title is referencing and sadly, I don't care enough about it to spend any time researching it.

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