Abeautiful sun-kissed tropical island with miles of pristine beach; add a few glamorous women—it could almost be a Bacardi ad. What spices up matters is a bit of homicide. Actually…lots of it.

The fifth season of the BBC television series Death In Paradise ended last week, and it has been a sleeper hit in the UK, confounding critics who favour grittiness and realism (read Nordic noir) in their crime dramas. Set on the fictional island of Saint Marie somewhere in the Caribbean, Death In Paradise is a throwback to the classic age of detective fiction from the 1930s and 1940s when murder was a much more civilized affair.

The Saint Marie police force is helmed by detective inspector Humphrey Goodman (played by Kris Marshall), formerly of the London Metropolitan Police. He’s ably assisted by detective sergeant Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert), veteran sergeant Dwayne Myers (Danny John-Jules), and young officer J.P. Hooper (Tobi Bakare). Saint Marie is a curious place; it is a quaint isle but rife with murder. And the culprits are unaware that they are up against a team that is adept at unlocking the most baffling cases.

Sample a couple of episodes from the current season: A member of a diving team gets murdered on the boat with the rest of the crew trawling the bottom of the ocean with not a boat in sight; and a model is strangled at a fashion show within sight of a couple of witnesses.

It does not require rocket science to understand why a show such as this would appeal to a large number of Britons looking for a bit of respite from the cold, damp weather. But there is much else to like about the show too. It features a great ensemble cast, clever scripts that are funny, and picturesque Guadeloupe, where the show is shot. Indians might be amused by some of the characters’ names, inspired by West Indian cricketers (there was even a character named Fidel Best in previous seasons).

Goodman, played with oodles of charm by Marshall (into his third season), is the stereotypical English detective. Transplanted to an alien environment, he displays bumbling manners, stammering through his conversations and jotting down stray thoughts on bits of paper. But his lack of social etiquette hides a keen, analytical mind that often resorts to unconventional methods. Goodman is not unlike many eccentric sleuths found in classic whodunnits.

The similarities with Golden Age detective fiction do not end there. Death In Paradise is more plot-driven than most crime capers on television. Its USP is “fair play", peppering the story with clues, which the attentive viewer can, in theory, solve himself. Death In Paradise isn’t CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. And that is good. Sometimes you only need your grey cells to solve a puzzle.

Death In Paradise: Series Five, £12.99 (around 1,235), is available on the BBC Shop; DVDs, £14.99, are available on Amazon UK.

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