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VOL. 38 | NO. 50 | Friday, December 12, 2014

Debonair detective good role model for new year

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My early New Year’s resolution is to be more like Christopher Foyle. Demeanor-wise and wisdom-wise. No, I won’t be wearing a vest.

“Foyle’s War” is a British detective series created by Anthony Horowitz. As World War II rages, Inspector Christopher Foyle (played by Michael Kitchen) investigates crimes from his headquarters in Hastings, England. He never raises his voice. He’s never puzzled by an inconsistency. Obvious lies from the devious don’t faze him one bit.

Overly left-brained and wired to accomplish justice, Foyle is a masterful clue-assembler and puzzle-solver. He often wears an overcoat with his signature three-piece suit as he queries witnesses and suspects, which at times include judges and lawyers.

I view the coat as a symbol, a necessary barrier – or layer of protection – between the good cop and those with whom he dare not get too close. Kitchen exudes detached, calculating energy as well as anyone I’ve seen. The series premiered in 2002 and is still afoot.

In episode 2 of 2010, “Killing Time,” an American company of soldiers are in town as the war is coming to a close, and a local woman has had a child by an African-American private. He needs permission from Major Wesker (Adam James), the company commander, to marry his child’s mother and bring her back to America. There he and she have planned to live in New York, to escape the prejudices that prevail in South Carolina.

Before the major makes his decision, though, the young mother’s dead body is found nestled among pine straw in the nearby woods.

The major’s assistant, one Sgt. Calhoun (John Sharian), from somewhere in the Deep South, is a bigot, troublemaker and crook. He snipes, dodges and obfuscates as Foyle frustratedly investigates the murder.

Near the end of the episode, Foyle sends for Calhoun.

“There’s enough circumstantial evidence connecting you with the murder,” Foyle begins matter-of-factly.

“I didn’t kill anybody.” The cocky and defiant voice of the sergeant grates on the listener.

“Well, it certainly doesn’t look like that,” says Foyle calmly. “Any jury’s gonna see that you despised this girl because she slept with a black GI. You offered her help in exchange for sexual favors. You strangled her when she refused. And you forced Private Kelly to confess to the crime you committed by threatening the thing he cares most about – his daughter. And, if they don’t hang you for it, I’ll be very surprised.”

After an awkward, yet pregnant, pause, Sgt. Kelly says, very respectfully, “That isn’t what happened.”

To which Foyle replies, “Well, what do I care? For the likes of you, it’s a fairly satisfactory result. So, if you’re going to tell me what really happened, it had better be good.”

At which point, Calhoun totally rats out Major Welker, a bad person, who in fact had received sexual favors from the young mother in return for his false promise of granting her child’s father permission to marry her.

When she overhears him and Sgt. Calhoun discussing their criminal enterprise, he can’t afford to let her live.

“Foyle’s War” is available on Netflix. I recommend it.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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