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I admit that I am behind on my TV watching—it’s all those mystery novels that take up my time!

So I have just discovered two new—well, new to me—TV shows that mystery fans will be interested in, and which may be the best new series around. One is Empire, which I am still watching, and the other is Bloodline, which I just finished.

Bloodline is following the new trend by not being launched on a network, but on Netflix, and making all the episodes available at the same time. This is what the producers of Bosch, the series based on the Michael Connelly novels, did on Amazon Prime. Bosch has been picked up for a second season. (See my review here or in the current issue of Mystery Scene.)

And Bloodline also has been picked up for a second season.

So here is why you should binge away on Bloodline, as I did during a recent long weekend.

1. Bloodline takes a familiar story line and turns it inside out, adding a heavy bit of noir and secrets you don’t see coming. The wealthy family that is systematically brought down is a timeless tale, but so often it is a family who the viewer—or the reader—hopes will get their comeuppance, and their failures become a nice bit of revenge for all. But in Bloodline, we are immediately drawn to the Rayburns, who live in the lovely Florida Keys.

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The Rayburns are a nice family—well-to-do, yes, but not the wealthiest family. But the Rayburns also are among the most respected and beloved in their Islamorada community. They have worked hard to get where they are and they still work hard. Robert Rayburn (Sam Shepard) and Sally Rayburn (Sissy Spacek) are devoted to their four children and have tried to raise each with love, respect, and as strong a work ethic as they have. Robert and Sally run a successful hotel in Islamorada, the kind of upscale resort that draw visitors to the Keys, and makes them want to stay.

Three of the Rayburn children also are hard-working and well-respected by the community.

John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler) is a detective with the Monroe County sheriff's office. Meg Rayburn (Linda Cardellini), the only daughter and the youngest, is an attorney. Youngest son Kevin Rayburn (Norbert Leo Butz), who has a quick temper, refurbishes boats at Indian Key Channel Marina.

And that leaves the oldest son—Danny—the family black sheep.

3. Ben Mendelsohn, who plays Danny, isn’t your typical family outsider. This Australian actor brings a cunning shadiness to his role. “Something’s not right with Danny,” says John’s lovely wife, Diana (Jacinda Barrett), and she couldn’t be more right. Danny is apart from the family for several reasons, which are revealed during the course of the series. Yet he is more than a drifter. He is a con man who observes the family and sees exactly where their weaknesses are and goes after them. Mendelsohn exudes danger—whether he is about to give a toast at his parents’ party or getting his brother John drunk or just watching everyone.

4. The rest of the cast. Who wouldn’t want to have Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek as their parents? Or a big brother like Kyle Chandler or a sister like Linda Cardellini? And having seen Norbert Leo Butz a few times on Broadway, I am always on his side—even when his character is being a jerk.

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The Florida setting. Those of us who live in Florida know how beautiful it is, and yet, how the darkness simmers just beneath surface. That pristine blue water can churn up danger. Those clear skies can turn into a storm in seconds.

6. The pacing. The Rayburns have a lot of secrets, which multiply in the course of the series. These are doled out like candy at Easter.

7. The supporting cast. I come at this as a regular attendee of regional theater in South Florida. (My husband is a theater critic so we see everything.) South Florida theater has a good number of excellent actors, many of which have been on Burn Notice, The Glades, and Magic City when those series were filming here. While these actors frequently are on the stages in South Florida, it is great to see them on the screen. So kudos to (and I hope I don’t forget any) Paul Tei, Betsy Graver, Todd Allen Durkin, Chaz Mena, Karen Stephens, Lela Elam, Matthew Chizever, and Avi Hoffman.

And please, bring them back, and hire more local actors. Their cameos are terrific.

8. The creative team. Bloodline is created by the Damages trio of Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, and Daniel Zelman.

Now, back to Empire, which mystery fiction fans also will enjoy. Go Cookie.


Photos: Top, Kyle Chandler and Linda Cardellini; second, Ben Mendelsoh, left, with Kyle Chandler; bottom, Ben Mendelsoh. Photos/Netflix

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