This is the fourth season of the popular German crime show ‘The Nordic Murders’ (the title is somewhat misleading – it’s set on the real Baltic island of Usedom, near the German/Polish border) starring Katrin Sass as former public prosecutor Karin Lossow and Rikke Lylloff as Commissioner Ellen Norgaard.
If you want to avoid all spoilers, stop reading this article now.
If you’re familiar with the previous seasons, you’ll know what to expect. Each 90 minutes episode is a stand-alone story set on the sleepy seaside location. Think of a chillier and rainier version of ‘Death In Paradise’ and you’ll not be too far off the mark.
In episode one, Ellen’s got herself in some serious trouble. She’s been having an affair with a TV celebrity, Jonas Gomez – when we first see them, they’re having sex in the underground car park opposite the police station, which I’m sure must violate all sorts of public decency legislation. She’s no sooner stepped outside the car when she’s called to the scene of a murder. And the victim is her lover’s wife.
Logic suggests that any sensible police officer in such a situation would come clean and own up to the fact that she and the victim are connected via her lover – but no. This is TV drama, so instead of doing the right thing, Ellen does the somewhat stupid thing and tries to cover her tracks – roping in her friend Karin to help her. Things are further complicated by the fact that Karin lives with Ellen’s police colleague, Rainer Witt, and his family – looking after their daughter.
And if that wasn’t enough, Gomez is being blackmailed – someone knows about his affair with Ellen, and about the fact that he is the father of her son, Jesper.
Never has Sir Walter Scott’s poem been more accurate when he wrote “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”.
It says very little for the Usedom police force that for the first hour none of Ellen’s colleagues manage to notice the knowing glances between her and Gomez or spot her furtive behaviour throughout the investigation. Indeed, the only person who comes out with much credit is Witt’s smart young daughter, who Karin uses as a prop whilst investigating on Ellen’s behalf.
Also involved in the plot are a smarmy art gallery owner, and a team of gardeners who were working on the Gomez property at the time of the murder.
This is all fairly formulaic stuff – a shifty cast of suspects, a few red herrings, and some bewildering decision-making by the lead protagonists. The acting and script lacks subtlety giving the show a soap-opera feel. This isn’t high-brow or challenging whatsoever – but it is fun.
If you’ve seen earlier seasons and enjoyed them, you’ll know what to expect. It’s entertaining bunkum.
Walter Presents: ‘The Nordic Murders’ Season 4 is available to stream as a boxset on C4 Streaming now.