REVIEW: Broadchurch: Thirteen Hours: A Series Two Original Short Story

The final installment in Erin Kelly's series of shorts focuses on Broadchurch's unlikely hero Alec Hardy. The story is set the day before the body of young Danny Latimer is found on the beach and centres around a typical day in the life of the careworn cop. When we join Alec, he's struggling to cope with the demands of his new job as DI in Broadchurch and that's even though he's not faced with anything more taxing than a string of charity box thefts on the local high street - a crime which he solves with his eyes shut.
He's not met Ellie Miller yet, she's not due back off holiday until the following day and the story offers us a glimpse at Alec's churlish attitude towards her even though he's not even met her yet! His first impressions are of her are based on a photo of her dressed as a bee to run a charity marathon and rather than admiration for her kind heart, he's scornful of her and believes it's no wonder she didn't get the DI role. It's a clever insight in to his thoughts, especially as we can see how fond of Ellie he is now.
He is also ill, very ill and can't even manage to find time to keep on top of his medication. He's heartbroken over the breakdown of his marriage and on top of all that he's still struggling with his guilt over the Sandbrook case and the trauma of discovering Pippa Gillespie's body.

And then there's Claire Ripley, his key witness in the Sandbrook trial, if ever there was a woman that would make your blood pressure rise she is it. Alec has brought Claire to Broadchurch with him, he's rented her a cottage out of town and is acting as her protector from her husband Lee, the man he charged with Pippa's murder and Lisa's disappearance, but does Claire need his protection and is Alec really offering it?
He knows she's not telling him the truth, the full story has never left her lips and the secrets that she keeps show no signs of being told just yet. But when she's ready he'll be there.. It's just a waiting game.
It's a battle of wits between the pair who are as equally manipulative as each other. Claire uses her feminine charms to throw him, she's childlike and vulnerable when she wants to be, then flirty the next and when he suffers a fainting spell from lack of medication she's tender and caring, but she can turn on a sixpence, she's prone to mood swings, she's unpredictable and he never knows what she's thinking.

The story picks up on a series of events that happen to Alec over the course of 13 hours, he's besieged by problems including running out of his medication and needing to fix Claire up with a new phone after she smashes up her old one by throwing it at a wall - she tells Alec she's dropped it, but he immediately detects the truth after seeing her eyes flit to a knock out of the plaster..
He knows this is the chance he's been looking for, he can provide her with a contract paid for by him and then he can vet her calls. He offers to arrange it and he can see from Claire's reaction that she's sussed his plans to monitor her..or has she? He can never tell. Claire is completely reliant on him, she has no income and is holed up in a cottage rented by him, miles away from anyone she knows, the only power she can retain from him is her knowledge of what happened in Sandbrook.

When Claire leaves the cottage and goes in search of a mobile phone for herself, Alec faces a race against time to track her down and to get his medication that he so desperately needs. His day is made all the harder by the fact that he can no longer drive and needs to take taxis and cadge lifts from colleagues to make his way round Broadchurch and it's surrounding areas. When he meets up with Claire at a large out of town Tesco, she's acting again, she can't remember why she's there and it's all his fault for leaving her alone. She was scared.
Alec gets the upper hand once more and buys her a new pay and go phone, knowing he can upgrade it to a contract the following day, but after he collapses due to missing a dose of his medication, it's Claire back in the driving seat once more.

And so the power battle continues, but  Alec and Claire are more alike than either would dare to admit. They're both vulnerable and reliant on others to even just cope on a daily basis. They are also both determined to give nothing about themselves away to anyone. Their old lives in Sandbrook are too painful and too broken to be disclosed to anyone.
We now know who won Alec and Claire's mind games, but it was certainly intriguing in getting there.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this collection of shorts, Erin Kelly has provided us with the perfect companion for the TV drama as she provides us with an invaluable insight to the characters we know and love or indeed hate. She has captured the essence of each character perfectly and I hope there will be a further series to accompany the third series of the show when it airs.