1. THE BRILLIANT BICKERING
Chalk and cheese police partners are nothing new in crime shows. They're as part of the DNA of the detective genre as sinister country homes, pompous senior officers, and sarcastic pathologists. But what makes The Inspector Lynley Mysteries so different is that the chalkiness vs cheesiness of Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers isn't just there as a bit of comic relief: it's an integral, essential theme of the whole series as a whole. From the very first moment they meet - when a scowling Havers barges in on an irritated Lynley at a wedding - their working relationship is fraught with issues of class resentment and mutual cynicism.
Which isn't to say they don't like a good-natured banter. They often do, in an amusingly silly way (on seeing a huge castle, Havers says to Lynley "Is your pad in Cornwall this big?", to which Lynley gives the cringey reply "Size isn't everything Havers, isn't that what you women keep telling us?"). But the brilliant bickering is actually significant in this show, and reveals the slow thawing and growing affection between two detectives as different as night and day.
2. TOMMY'S SHEER CHARM
The single best thing about The Inspector Lynley Mysteries might well be Tommy Lynley himself. Let's just all agree he has to be one of the most appealing, dashing and downright adorable TV sleuths of all time. And that's pretty remarkable when you also bear in mind how prickly, irritable and unthinkingly arrogant he can so often be. Of course, it helps that he's played by Nathaniel Parker, whose cut-glass accent and suave charisma makes him such a watchable presence on screen.
In fact, with his great head of hair, air of mystery and melancholy, and ability to look really good in dinner jackets, there's something a bit James Bond about Thomas Lynley - James Bond minus the tendency towards casual violence and womanizing, and with extra amounts of genuine concern for justice. He's tough on the outside and soppy soft on the inside, in that way that can make some men so irresistible, and he's not afraid to put fools in their place. As he once said to an obnoxious, resentful fellow officer: "Hit me. I'd enjoy saving the taxpayers the cost of your pension."
3. THE UNLIKELY GUEST STARS
One of the incidental pleasures of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries is spotting all the famous faces which often so often pop up. You'll often see them among the various suspects - without warning, the brilliant Bill Nighy's face might suddenly appear. Or you might catch a young and rather cherubic Brendan Coyle in his pre-Downton pomp. Or the darkly handsome Richard Armitage, perfectly cast as a landowner with sinister secrets.
In one episode set in a posh private school we see future Hollywood superstar Henry Cavill, and even as a teenager, even in blazer and tie, he has the square-jawed, matinee idol looks that would later get him cast as Superman. But perhaps the most enjoyable star-spotting moment comes in an episode about a murdered playwright, which sees a young, pre-fame Idris Elba playing a cocky womanizing actor who gets punched in the face by a young, pre-fame James McAvoy. Marvellous.
4. THE CLASS CONFLICT
We mentioned earlier about the complex, up and down relationship between Lynley and Havers. A lot of that is down to the huge class divide between them. Lynley, after all, is an actual, literal aristocrat, while Havers hails from an ordinary working class family, and has clearly been badly affected by her rocky upbringing. The issue of social gulfs is a big one in The Inspector Lynley Mysteries - after all, how often do you get a detective who is so rich he doesn't even have to work for a living?
He does it because he wants to right wrongs and crusade for justice, but his privileged, pampered life can't be ignored, and has other characters accuse him of having a silver spoon in his mouth. It adds a whole added layer of complexity to the cop show shenanigans, and - unlike many other whodunits - there's a real story arc to follow across the episodes, as both Lynley and Havers learn to come to terms with their places in the world.