This review contains spoilers.The picturesque surroundings of Loch Ness provide the location for The Loch, the new murder mystery from ITV. Laura Fraser stars as local police officer Annie Redford who finds herself dealing with her first murder case after a local music teacher is found dead at the foot of Carn Mohr mountain with ligature wounds on his wrists and a rather large head injury. Elsewhere, a prank involving offal masquerading as the dead remains of Nessie leads to the discovery a human heart among the remains. As outside law enforcement help arrives, the main question appears to be what if the monster isn’t in the loch, but living in the town? The first episode makes a statement immediately, submerging us beneath the eponymous waters to see a body appearing in the gloom, a curling stone weighing him down. It’s a shot that’s haunting in its murkiness and uses the natural location as one of both beauty and terror. The Scottish scenery is used to similar effect throughout the rest of the episode and the loch and its surroundings look set to be the star of the show. The opener, though, is largely about the people within that landscape. An opening episode to a murder mystery has to have a fine balance between getting to know everyone involved, from the heroes to the suspects, and setting up a tangible enigma to be solved over the coming episodes. For the most part, The Loch does so smoothly, offering us a few glimpses into the different characters. Annie’s fractious relationship with her daughter is set up nicely as well as her place within the local community. William Ash as Leighton Thomas gets a clunker of a line to her though, throwing it out there that this is a community built on lies rather than a sense of kindred spirits. Elsewhere, it’s always fun to start spotting the potential suspects; Craig Petrie (Alastair Mackenzie) has got all the shiftiness of a classic red herring. Then there’s John Heffernan’s stern Simon Marr, who fired Niall (Jordan McCurrach) shortly before the music teacher got his brain scrambled. Of course, the rule of television suggests it will be neither of these two, but Mackenzie and Heffernan do a fine line in being quietly sinister. As for the central mystery, that opening shot really does set up the atmosphere brilliantly, as well as providing a little misdirection early on. It seems straightforward, that the man in the loch will be the first murder victim found, only for the bait and switch to take out poor Niall as well. That gruesome edge is a nicely unnerving element, contrasting well with the sweeping shots of the Scottish Highlands. Niall’s murder brings in the marvellous Siobhan Finneran as DCI Lauren Quigley, marching about, taking charge, and conveying whole relationship histories in the way she spits out a name. We don’t get to see much of Don Gilét’s whizz of a forensic profiler, Blake Albrighton, with Quigley just yet, but the possibility of sparks flying is tantalising. It also sets up a classic local-outsider dynamic between Quigley and Redford, displayed in the scene where Quigley’s experience has to give way to Redford’s local knowledge and they happen upon another clue.A couple of clunky lines to establish certain dynamics aside, the dark atmosphere of the opening episode of The Loch ensures an intriguing start. It helps that there is such a strong cast to carry the story and I’m already looking forward to seeing more of Fraser, Finneran and Gilét together.