Friday, October 12th, 2007 9:00pm

Ken Stott returns to the role of Inspector John Rebus in four new feature-length television adaptations of Rebus based on Ian Rankin’s best selling novels.

The Moderator elect of the Church of Scotland, Derek Brady, is found naked in a car with his throat cut. Next to him is a female passenger in a similar state. The car is discovered in a park notorious for being used by lovers.

Rebus (Ken Stott), meanwhile, is visiting an elderly ex-colleague. Ken Flatley (Andrew Neil) was his first station sergeant but is now in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and is convinced that some members of staff at his nursing home are trying to poison him. On receiving news of the murders, Rebus cuts his visit short; nevertheless assuring Flatley he’ll investigate his concerns.

DS Siobhan Clarke (Claire Price) is already at the crime scene when Rebus arrives. The female passenger is identified as Iris Steele, wife of scrap merchant Tommy (Lorcan Cranitch). Initially, he seems the obvious first port of call – jealous husband kills his wife and rival in a vengeful rage – but whilst Tommy is certainly a nasty piece of work, Rebus is unconvinced that he’s responsible for the murders.

Brady’s widow, Alice (Cara Kelly) seems completely bemused by his murder. She knew Iris Steele, but totally refutes the suggestion that her husband may have been an adulterer. The outgoing moderator Reverend Carson (Michael Carter), is also at the Brady house. An imposing religious presence, he too is dismissive of talk of affairs, and is adamant that Derek was a decent, upstanding member of the community.

At a press conference on the murder enquiry, Rebus is approached by young reporter Jean Munro (Hannah Donaldson) keen to get a lead. Admiring her persistence after she successfully tails him to the Oxford Bar, Rebus throws her a bone in the shape of Flatley’s nursing home poisoning allegations.

Back in the incident room fresh theories abound. Was Brady attacked for taking any particularly extreme religious stances on issues of morality? At the general assembly, Rebus talks to Andrew McLeod (John Stahl) one of the men responsible for vetting potential candidates for the moderatorship. McLeod is quick in his assurances that Brady was no better or worse than the next man, but Rebus can’t help but think he’s holding something back.

With the case at a relative impasse, Rebus persuades a reticent CSI Gill Templer (Jennifer Black) to join him in a visit to Ken Flatley. Although confused, Flatley notices Rebus on the news broadcast of the press conference and seems to recognise the photo of Iris Steele, although something appears to be bothering him about her – it’s as if the name doesn’t quite fit the picture.

The impasse is broken when one of the rival candidates for the moderatorship is murdered. As with the previous victims, Andrew Mason (Sandy Welch) is found in his car with his throat slit. In an even more sinister turn, it appears that this murder was reported in a crank call to a local radio station. Could the DJ, Michael Walker (Ewan Stewart) shed some light on the proceedings?

As the investigation comes to a head, the church’s tendency to deal with matters internally, and protect its own comes back to haunt it. Secrets and lies hidden for years start to unravel with fatal consequences.

Written by Colin Bateman.
Directed by Morag Fullarton.

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