MURDER 101. Made for cable-TV: USA Network, 20 March 1991. Pierce Brosnan, Dey Young, Antoni Corone, Raphael Sbarge, Kim Thomson, Mark L. Taylor. Director: Bill Condon.

   This played on the USA network last week, and if you’re a fan of mysteries about mysteries and mystery writers, I hope you didn’t miss it. Pierce Brosnan is a college professor who is a mystery writer in his spare time. More than that, he has struck it rich (relatively speaking) by writing a true-crime book which has helped put a clever killer behind bars.

   Unfortunately he has also struck out in his married life — a combination of success going to his head, plus a clandestine affair begun with one of his students. Upon his return to academia, he finds his wife in a close entanglement with his new department chairman, a nasty surprise within a surprise, it you see what I mean.

   There’s more. One of the courses he’s teaching is in how to write a thriller, and the first assignment is a paper on “how to commit the perfect murder.” One of his students (female, and on the prowl herself) takes this a bit too seriously, and … well, I’m not going to tell you everything. Suffice it to say, there are lots of suspects and even a few motives, some pretty good twists, and an ending which is a knockout, even if two or three steps beyond the realm of reality, but it worked for me.

   There is even a final twist beyond that, a clever little conceit that I’ll probably remember, even after I’ve forgotten the rest of the movie.

   I never watched Pierce Brosnan in that other TV show he was in, but other than the fact that he constantly needed a shave and a haircut in this movie, he did a fine job. Everyone else, besides the students, who looked too old, looked too young, As a matter of fact, I think everyone in this movie was younger than I am. Is this going to continue to be a trend of some kind?

– Slightly revised from Mystery*File #30, April 1991.