Life of Crime is a three-part drama with the action taking place over three time periods - 1985, when Denise Woods (Hayley Atwell) first joins the force and investigates the death of a teenager; 1997, when the conviction of her killer is thrown into doubt and the present day, when the investigation is finally concluded. I wasn't overawed by this one, though I very much wanted to like it.
For a start, I thought it latched itself unnecessarily onto 'events', namely the Brixton riot of 1985 and the death of Princess Diana. It added artificiality to the plot for me, when showing the passage of time could simply be done via the medium of Denise's family. In addition, I found the direction lacking. It was too slow with far too many extended scenes that simply weren't necessary. I thought that it could've been easily transferred into a two hour drama special instead of being spread over three weeks but, I suppose, that would've toyed with the format they'd set their hearts on. What happened was that the action became diluted and the mix of the family troubles Denise experiences as a result of her headstrong nature failed to capture my attention as they should have.
I have another construction criticism which, again, could have been remedied by it being a more compact drama. By the time the 'reveal' came around I honestly couldn't recall who the killer was for a good few minutes. This was partly caused by a lack of signposts and partly by the fact the third episode recap was fundamentally useless. Finally, I felt let down in the final episode by the fact that Denise spoke to the first victim's mother in quite a touching scene and then there was no more from her - that was one aspect that deserved more exploration and it didn't get it.
I thought that Life of Crime was an interesting concept but, ultimately, it just moved too slow for me to enjoy it and by the time the third episode came around I was ambivalent about the killer. In addition, Denise isn't an easy character to like or even respect. You don't have to like a protagonist in a drama like this but you do at least have to be concerned about what happens to them and, really, I wasn't. A bit of a let-down but, as ever, this was only my opinion. I'm sure other people enjoyed it.