Back in 1983, Alec Jeffreys (John Simm, Life on Mars) was nearing a breakthrough in his work with DNA at Leicester University. He was on the brink of finally cracking the DNA code, but he spent so much time at the university, immersed in his work, that his family life was falling apart before his eyes, even though he didn't quite realize it. Meanwhile, a 15-year-old girl named Lynda Mann (Jessica Hargreaves) is brutally raped and murdered in a nearby town and despite a robust investigation led by DCS David Baker (David Threlfall, Midwinter of the Spirit), the killer is not caught.
Several years go by and in that time, Jeffreys has not only discovered that each living thing has its own unique genetic DNA code, but he gains notoriety when his DNA fingerprinting is used in a court case to prove familial relationships. Sadly, while DCS Baker is still plagued by Lynda Mann's unsolved murder, Dawn Ashworth (Emma Lundy), another girl of the same age as Lynda Mann, is murdered not far from where the original murder took place. Police are convinced that the same man is responsible and, despite another in-depth investigation, things stall, until DCS Baker contacts Dr. Jeffreys in the hopes that he can definitively connect the two cases and hopefully, catch their elusive killer. This is especially important as they have a prime suspect. It will take hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars in DNA blood testing, but in the end, it does finally pay off.
Code of a Killer is a mini-series that will be intriguing to not only mystery fans, simply because of the twists and turns, but also fans of true crime and police procedural dramas the likes of C.S.I.. Seeing the science behind the discovery of DNA mapping and humanizing the face of its pioneer, Sir Alec Jeffreys (he was later knighted for his incredible discovery and contribution to science), was quite interesting, as I really wasn't familiar with its origin, despite my interest in forensics. I also happen to enjoy murder mysteries, so Code of a Killer was a perfect fit for me. It is definitely satisfying to see Baker finally get his man, and also frustrating to see the near-misses they experienced, simply by people either not reporting a crime that almost happened to them, or even something they saw or heard that could have furthered the investigation much sooner.
Included is a 30 minute featurette that covers some behind-the-scenes with cast and crew, but, more importantly, Sir Alec Jeffreys and Detective David Baker provide their input on what their feelings were during the ongoing investigation and how it impacted their lives.
If you have any interest in the birth of DNA fingerprinting and the first major crime that it solved, check out Code of a Killer and you won't be disappointed.