Miranda Richardson plays Dr Sarah Blakeney, the community's recently-arrived doctor, whose friendship with the murdered Mathilda arouses intense suspicion among her relatives and the local villagers.
Miranda confesses that tortuous, twisting novels like The Scold's Bridle, leave her nursing a gentle headache.
"My Dad is someone who loves reading Agatha Christie and John Le Carre and he loves working it all out. He always know who did it," she explains. "Where as I'm hopeless at it, the perfect audience in that way. It's all like chess to me."
It was precisely that quality that appealed when she read Tony Bicat's adaptation of the book.
"I thought this is nice and complex - which is what you want really. Although there's no real agenda with Sarah Blakeney, herself. She's a good, normal person. All this stuff is going on around her, all these wheels that she gets caught up in. She is also a doctor so there's an idea that she's a healing presence in some way."
Miranda Richardson first found fame as Ruth Ellis in Dance with a Stranger. Since then she has established herself as one of Britain's finest and most fascinating actresses. Her devastating performance in Tom & Viv earned her an Oscar nomination in 1995. She received great critical acclaim for her roles in Damage, The Crying Game, Evening Star (with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson) and Kansas City (directed by Robert Altman).
She admits that she is still prone to analyzing her performances in obsessively fine detail. She generally watches her performances in private. "Or I rnight go to a cast and crew screening, you can get your screaming over and done with there," she says with a grim smile. "I can't help it really. If it doesn't matter we may as well go home."