Review: Safe

Michael C. Hall and Marc Warren in Safe

Safe is an 8 part Harlan Coben mystery series on Netflix. It stars Michael C. Hall as a father desperately trying to find his missing 16 year old daughter.

MIchael C. Hall and Amy James-Kelly in Safe
Jenny isn’t very happy with her dad.
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The story begins with a funeral. Tom Delaney (Hall) and his two daughters Jenny (Amy James-Kelly) and Carrie (Isabelle Allen) are burying their wife and mother, Rachel. Jenny seems angry at her dad at the funeral. We see photos and clips of Rachel (Katy Carmichael) throughout the mystery that unveils itself a year after the funeral.

The story is told in a nonlinear way. We go back to certain scenes again and again to see them in a new light or with more detail. Many flashbacks are used. I’m going to give you a vague outline of things so as not to reveal too many spoilers.

The clues (and hence the need to minimize the spoilers) begin immediately as we are introduced to the various characters.

Jenny and her boyfriend Chris (Freddie Thorp) go to a wild teen party at their school mate Sia’s (Amy-Leigh Hickman) house. By the end of the evening, Chris is dead in the pool and Jenny has disappeared.

Tom and his best friend Pete (Marc Warren), who are both doctors, begin searching for Jenny immediately. They look even before the police are called in. Tom and Pete are a great team. They communicate well and can transmit ideas quickly under pressure. And they are under pressure. A lot of pressure.

Amanda Abbington and Hannah Arterton in Safe
Cops on the job

The first cop Sophie Mason (Amanda Abbington) lives in the same area as Tom Delaney and his family. She has two kids, the oldest being Henry (Louis Greatorex) who knew both Jenny and Chris and was at the same party.

The second cop working the case is new to the area. She is Emma Castle (Hannah Arterton). She has hidden reasons for moving to the area.

If you’ve watched a Harlan Coben mystery before you know the clues are scattered around up to almost the last minute of the series and the number of potential suspects grows as the story proceeds. Some of the plot twists were a little too quickly dealt with to be truly believable, but the pace of the story didn’t leave much time for questions like, “eh, what just happened?”

Also check out these reviews of Harlan Coben’s mysteries No Second Chance and The Five

There are hidden secrets from the past, 5 old high school friends (5  foolish teens again, hmm), drug deals, failing kidneys, fires, 80s themed nightclubs, stabbings, self-sacrificing fathers, and long lost fathers. Tom and the police dig through it all, with Tom always in hot pursuit ahead of the cops.

There are so many characters I haven’t mentioned because even mentioning someone in one of these Coben mysteries makes them a suspect and adds to the spoilers. Instead I’ll list some of the more important cast members I haven’t named yet: Joplin Sibtain, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Audrey Fleurot, Emmett J Scanlan, Nigel Lindsay, Laila Rouass, Karen Bryson, and Milo Twomey.

The fascinating thing to me was that Tom Delaney didn’t know much of anything about his wife or either of his daughters. He did his doctoring. After his wife died he shagged the cop next door – yes, Sophia. His deceased wife and daughters led lives he was no part of. That’s one of the discoveries he makes as he digs through their lives looking for Jenny. He didn’t know them at all.

I have to brag a bit, because I figured out before the final episode who killed Chris. It’s always risky picking a culprit in a mystery filled with plot twists and revelations, but I stuck with my pick and I was right. Go, me! (No way am I telling you!)

Safe was produced by Nicola Shindler’s Red Production Company. They have worked with Coben before. Shindler worked with Louis Greatorex in Last Tango in Halifax. Hannah Arterton appeared in another of Coben’s mysteries. When you find a good combination, you stick with it. Michael C. Hall’s British accent came and went, but it was a very minor issue to me.

Julia Ford directed several episodes of Safe. Love to see even one woman’s name on the list of directors.

The series has plenty of suspense and danger. It will pull you along for the ride. As you can guess because I’ve watched and reviewed so many Coben mysteries, I enjoy his storytelling.

Have you seen Safe? What did you think of it?

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