Ah, the Côte d’Azure. Beautiful aqua seas, lovely beaches, dramatic hillsides and warm weather. It’s a region where people go to relax and to party, with big hotels, bars and nightclubs to entertain them. Unfortunately, it’s also a hotbed of drug trafficking and organised crime. That’s the backdrop for The Red Shadows, the high-octane French crime drama airing on Channel 4 in the UK, from Monday 13 December at 11pm.
First, we meet the bad guys. Episode one begins with two men taking another, bound and gagged, to a hilltop. Presumably this is a mob execution.
Then we meet Aurore Garnier Paoletti (Nadia Farès), a police detective on a mission to solve a mystery. Although she comes from a wealthy family who own an expensive hotel, spa and golf club, the murder of her mother and disappearance of her younger sister Clara made her join the police.
When the body of the man on the hilltop is found by a dog walker (yup, always the way), Aurore and her partner Antoine (Mhamed Arezki) go to search the victim’s home. They find the place has already been turned over and pursue an intruder out into the fields. The man opens fire on them, and gets away, but not before dropping a plastic wallet containing a photograph.
Straight away, Aurore thinks the woman in the picture could be her missing sister, Clara. They track the dead man’s last mobile phone pings to a place down the coast in Italy. By asking around, Aurore is able to find the woman in the picture and is staggered to discover that her name is actually Clara (Manon Azem). But this Clara doesn’t believe Aurore’s story and is a bit overwhelmed by it.
Glossy and fast-moving, The Red Shadows is about much more than Aurore’s search for her sister. Like Aurore, the missing Clara would be an heiress to their grandfather’s wealth and there is all sorts of family intrigue from the off. The old man is planning on selling the leisure complex and distributing the money between his surviving heirs – apart from Aurore’s father who gave up his shares when he remarried.
For some members of the family, Aurore’s fixation with her missing sister seems illogical. Her husband, also a cop, thinks it’s preventing her from getting on with her life – meanwhile, he is having an affair with Aurore’s boss. Her stepmother accuses Aurore of stopping her father from moving on as well.
Is the Clara she’s found her sister? What’s her connection to the dead man on the hilltop? And what about the two gangsters who killed him? This is French crime drama that is altogether different in tone and atmosphere to both Spiral and Witnesses, but you may well enjoy it just as much.
The series comprises six hour-long episodes, and originally aired as Les Ombres Rouges in France in 2019. The show will be available to stream on Walter Presents once it’s on air.