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Living in Happy Valley
The series is full of violence and bad language. It’s not only the pack of wrongdoers – whatever violation or crime they may have caused – who are outrageous, but also the police, the victims, innocent bystanders … anybody acts in this field. Even Catherine Cawood. It’s not an overcrowded metropolitan area, not even a busy prosperous city somewhere or some slum area: it’s a small town in the middle of nowhere (almost nowhere!) in a rather pleasant valley. (Otherwise notorious big cities are not so far!)
You may assume that in the countryside life is complacently advancing from day to day. Anybody is happy – with colorful flour beds in the front garden, swings and BBQ equipment on the deck. Unfortunately life had other plans with Happy Valley …
Catherine Cawood lives and works in this area and she learns all about its bad and shady sides. Each day. Each day shapes and challenges her anew.
Catherine started at the police and became a detective in the murder squad. However, there was a marriage and there were children, so Catherine stepped back for a while and restarted as a police sergeant in uniform. That’s history.
Nowadays she is divorced. Her daughter killed herself after having been raped and given birth to a boy eight years ago. Catherine decided to care for her grandson – against the mood of the rest of the family – which finally led to the divorce. She is still on good terms with her husband (and his new wife), but her grandson is stressful.
Her son is married, but his marriage is on the verge of going downhill – despite a baby. He isn’t on good terms with his mother because of the mess of his sister, but moves back home when his marriage gets nasty.
Catherine has also a sister, a recovering alcoholic, who also lives in her small crammed terrace house. In short: Catherine’s plate is rather full only with family affairs and trouble.
However, she has to earn money to pay the mortgage off and care for the cost of living of her family. So she manages her small team at the police station, rushes all around the town to bring about peace and to arrest the bad boys and girls.
More than once she comes home with bruises in her face or anywhere else. Nobody likes to get arrested and will fight, fight, fight … until … Nobody is picky about the arms – anything is allowed as long as it may harm anybody else. Often the wrongdoers are boozed or hyper by drugs. Often they are active in the drug business although only small fry. There is domestic violence … and there is always a lot of blood. Hard days. Hard weeks.
In general there are no sophisticated crimes. People spot a chance to get some money or drugs or whatever – and they hit hard. Nobody cares what might happen to a victim or afterwards when police cars stop at the front-door. There are always some planks or chairs or broken table-legs lingering around for any fight. You may call it sophisticated if anybody uses a knife – not to forget about gas and lighters. Catherine knows all about these incidents and she knows all about the perpetrators.
Sometimes it gets very evil – when a corpse surfaces and it obviously was a violent death. It’s not Catherine’s business to chase the culprit – she has to rely on the plain clothes team. Nevertheless she likes to poke around and stir up something – and mostly she is right.
So Catherine has an interesting private life as well as a stressful professional life. What else?
Catherine has got a nemesis. It’s the guy who raped her daughter and fathered her grandson. Her daughter killed herself because of him and the crime. At least Catherine believes so. The rape never went into the police files, the guy was never charged with it. By the way he is in prison since eight years for some other foul play.
Then he is released and comes back … Soon he is involved in a nasty crime, an abduction, which manifolds and creates a lot of havoc and corpses, but he also learns about his son. He gets obsessed with his son. Catherine is busy to avoid any encounter of the two …
At the same time Catherine is in the middle of the investigation investigating the whole mess – the abduction, the corpses … In short there are some very violent showdowns between Catherine and him. The guy wants to see Catherine dead and Catherine almost dies.
At the end he is in prison again, but that’s not the end of the world – at least to him. He restarts his efforts to harm Catherine during the next season … when there is a serial killer active in Happy Valley. Of course it isn’t a sophisticated killer who plans his moves and tries to outmaneuver the police – it’s just a desperate man. Another desperate man jumps onto the bandwagon trying to cover his own crime and Cathrine is once again in the middle of the action.
Catherine seems shattered after all the events of the last years. Her nemesis tries again and again to cop off with her grandson – and her grandson gets older and angrier and … because he wants to get to know his dad, even if he knows that he is in prison for more than one felony mayhem.
Catherine is a hero and a damned soul. She has to fight even if she doesn’t want it feeling responsible for her family as well as anybody else who seems to be innocent – becoming exasperated with anybody. All seems to speed up … if watching the series it’s really enthralling!
Time goes by – after some years the next season hit the screens (reportedly the last one).
Catherine is now on the verge of retirement and starts planning her future. Her grandson is seventeen now and visits his father in prison secretly with help of Catherine’s sister and her partner. Catherine goes ballistic when she gets to know about it.
In the background there is a case of nasty domestic violence mixed up with drug trafficking and extortion, a low level business, but nevertheless a violent affair when it goes wrong and a respectable family man comes under pressure. The mess ends up on Catherine’s desk as usual – and there is a lot of fallout in Happy Valley.
… and the father of her grandson breaks out of jail with help of just the nasty guys fooling around with the drug business. Catherine is devastated, especially when her grandson … At the end there is a really fearsome, shocking scene – however, Catherine retires, climbs into her new jeep and moves on.
(Because of the end I think it’ll really be the the end of the series!)