As serial killer calling cards go, dead scarab beetles are certainly flamboyant – and in ITV’s Grace, it was exactly this penchant for theatricality that got the better of the bad guy. The Brighton-set drama is based on Peter James’s bestselling Roy Grace novels and after last year’s standalone episode, John Simm has returned as Grace, an empathetic detective with a tendency to consult mediums.
In this new episode, titled “Looking Good Dead”, Grace – still traumatised by his own wife’s disappearance and in the bad books after his supernatural leanings jeopardised a case – was on thin ice and his initial insistence that two murders were linked fell on deaf ears.
One was an apparent case of chemsex tragedy while the other was a trainee solicitor found dismembered on the South Downs. Each was discovered with those telltale beetles that sent our cops investigating CCTV, phone records and tropical insect breeders.
If that wasn’t gruesome enough, it turned out that each murder had been live-streamed to paying customers, something a frazzled local businessman was unfortunate enough to get caught up in after finding a mysterious memory stick on his commute.
The various threads were a little frenetic, but as the story wove together, the tension ramped up, with a final race against time providing ample nail-biting.
Ultimately the killers turned out to be ex-military goons capitalising on public bloodlust that Grace blamed on the true crime trend getting out of hand. With three more Grace instalments to come, ITV will be hoping viewers don’t take his concerns about our serial killer consumption too seriously.
Grace continues on Sunday 1 May at 8pm on ITV