A GREAT DELIVERANCE (S1 EP1)
We have to begin at the beginning, with Lynley and Havers' very first case. It's not the smoothest of starts, as you can imagine. When a farmer is found brutally murdered on a desolate patch of land, Havers is deliberately assigned to work with Lynley, basically in order to shut her up. Her superiors in the police regard her as an agitator and want her distracted by a big case with a totally ill-suited partner. She resents Lynley's social status as an "arrogant, aristocratic ponce". Lynley, meanwhile, is busy being heartbroken by the woman he loves getting hitched to his best pal. Somehow, though, they shed the chips on their respective shoulders to crack the case and cement their very unlikely partnership.
PAYMENT IN BLOOD (S1 EP3)
This case really is the quintessential murder mystery. It has the classic, Agatha Christie-like setting (a country manor). It has the classic, Agatha Christie-like selection of dodgy suspects (a group of actors rehearsing a play there). And when Lynley and Havers turn up to investigate the grisly killing of a playwright, they slowly untangle all the secret agendas and murky motivations of this seemingly glamorous group of pseudo-celebrities. The episode is a delight for fans of good old-fashioned whodunits, and also has the added bonus of showcasing the talents of two future Hollywood stars: Idris Elba and James McAvoy (who get into an amusing scuffle in one memorable scene).
A SUITABLE VENGEANCE (S2 EP3)
Now this is an interesting episode, because it's the one which reveals that - despite his posh, privileged background - all is not well in Lynley-land. Returning to his sprawling family home to celebrate his engagement, Lynley should be a happy bunny. Instead he has Havers-like levels of bitterness and resentment, with a grudge against his mother (for cheating on his late father) and a frosty relationship with his black sheep of a brother. There are some very funny moments though - like Havers being mistaken for the florist when she arrives at the house, and the touching moment where Lynley tries to get Havers to act like a friend rather than a colleague, "Would you call me 'Tommy' this weekend? Or even 'Thomas'?" he asks her. To which she replies, "I don't think so, sir."
DECEPTION ON HIS MIND (S2 EP4)
Here's a case which has even more resonance today than when it was first shown. After all, it revolves around themes of immigration and "assimilation", and the cultural gulfs that can lead to the undoing of innocent lives. Beginning with the discovery of a Pakistani-British man on a beach in Essex, the line of enquiry leads Havers into some very thorny issues. Lynley is actually away on his honeymoon so it's a largely Havers-led episode, and involves a lot of her personal life, even reminding us that this brittle, isolated character is actually capable of forging real friendships. There's a real emotional wallop of a climax too.
IN PURSUIT OF THE PROPER SINNER (S3 EP1)
Kicking off with a particularly frightening opening sequence showing a screaming woman being stalked on a hillside, this episode means business right from the start. It's a vicious crime, involving a double murder, and one of the victims happens to be the daughter of a retired police bigwig - played with stern and snarling gusto by Timothy West. The case turns out to be suitably salacious, but we're just as caught up in the woes of Havers, who's been demoted back to uniform and partly blames Lynley for her situation. Suddenly their playful bickering doesn't seem so playful anymore, and it's like they're back to square one in their relationship. Especially when Havers decides to stay as stubborn as ever. Well, it's why we love her.
IF WISHES WERE HORSES (S3 EP4)
Could this be the most shocking episode of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries of all? It begins explosively, with a forensic psychologist being killed in a dramatic car bomb. And that's just the start. As Lynley and Havers probe the dead man's personal life, and realise he was quite the womanizer, things take a very dark turn as Lynley's own wife becomes a target for the killer. We don't want to give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say this is an episode that pulls no punches, with a shocking development halfway through proceedings, and then an even more shocking conclusion which threatens to ravage the lives of our favourite coppers. This is an episode that'll have you reaching for the tissues before those credits roll.
NATURAL CAUSES (S5 EP1)
Havers working on a murder case with a partner who isn't Lynley? Shocking! But that's exactly what happens in this one, which sees Barbara paired with the no-nonsense, quick tongued and heavily pregnant detective Fiona Knight, perfectly played by Liza Tarbuck. Lynley himself is in quite a fix, as he's facing disciplinary proceedings. But he still manages to get stuck into the case with Havers and Knight, and there's an especially touching bit where Havers admits to Lynley that she misses him, saying "It's just not the same with anyone else." Which may well be the most adorable in the whole series.