The real mystery in Netflix’s thriller series Stay Close is how to avoid all the clichés. There are as many of them in the Harlan Coben adaptation as there are characters. “I feel it in my piss!” yells a middle-aged cockney. “Bags. Car. Can you help me?” staccatos a breathy, flustered mum as she brings in the groceries. “There’s no discount for cops,” growls a bald, thick-set bouncer at a strip club/crime scene. If you need any more clues about how to feel or what to think when watching this series, don’t worry: the score will help you out.
The eight-parter opens with a drunk young man (Connor Calland) leaving a club and staggering through a nearby forest, before disappearing. It is oddly similar to a plotline in another Netflix adaptation of a Coben novel, The Stranger, in which a boy is found naked and injured in the woods after a rave. The action then cuts to a scene of domestic bliss, as we meet Megan (Cush Jumbo), who is preparing for her hen night. She’s been with Dave (Daniel Francis) for 16 years and they’ve finally decided to tie the knot. “Everyone else is splitting up and you two just keep getting stronger,” her friend tells her. Uh oh. Could that be about to change I wonder? My sleuth senses are tingling.
Sure enough, when Megan gets home, there’s a note and a bottle of champagne on the doorstep. Sounds like a nice gesture. It isn’t. The note is addressed to Cassie – but that’s the person she used to be, with the life of a stripper she left behind. Cue lots of flashbacks to Megan/Cassie wearing a dodgy blonde wig.
There are an awful lot of sub-plots going on. There’s a photographer who has some kind of connection to Megan and the missing man. There’s a craggy-faced villain, Stewart Green (Rod Hunt), who seems to be active again after being missing for 17 years. James Nesbitt and Jo Joyner are on the scene, as police partners who used to be married. Eddie Izzard also pops up at one point as a heroin addict. She’s incapacitated so doesn’t get any lines in the first episode.
It is, I must admit, quite entertaining. If you can swallow the clichés and the cheesy, conspicuous score, you might actually end up caring what happens to Megan. And whether Izzard perks up enough to get any lines.
‘Stay Close’ is out today on Netflix