When the first series of the German crime show The Nordic Murders appeared, it lit the lights and rang the bells here at Crime Fiction Lover. Overnight, our preview of the series became one of the most popular articles on the site. The crime drama is set to return to More4, with episodes streaming on Walter Presents. Originally due 25 June, the date has been put back to Friday 9 July at 9pm due to the Euro 2020 football tournament.
The first episode of season two opens with a dilemma for Stefan Thiel (Peter Schneider). Once a police detective in Usedom, his wife Julia (Lisa Maria Potthoff) is now a private investigator and has gone missing just across the border in Poland. She was on the trail of a biker who went missing during a jaunt to Szczecin. His mission was to pick up €2000-worth of cheap booze and cigarettes in the motorcycle club’s van, but he hasn’t returned. Julia has broken her leg and been captured by a Polish biker gang who are keeping her in a remote hunting lodge near the coast.
Julia’s mother, Karin Lossow (Katrin Sass), is the former Usedom public prosecutor, and if you watched the first series you’ll know that she has a Jessica Fletcher-like penchant for solving local crimes. In fact, she turned out to be her detective daughter’s shadow throughout the series. Now, Karin’s determination and investigative skills will be put to the test as she and Stefan team up to try and find Julia. A bit of background on Karin: she spent over a decade in prison for murdering her husband, Julia’s father. It’s… complicated.
Meanwhile, on the police force, Julia Thiel’s replacement has arrived. Ellen Norgaard (Rikke Lylloff) was born in Usedom but is of Danish extraction. Now she’s returned to the town as a police detective. Soon, she’s in the thick of it, looking into the disappearance of the biker, Lutz Bahrmann, as well as that of Julia Thiel. When the headless body of a Nazi biker is pulled from the harbour by a fisherman, Ellen realises there’s an imminent threat to Julia’s life.
Originally titled Der Usedom-krimi in German, The Nordic Murders isn’t strictly speaking Nordic. The peninsula the story takes place on is about 200km south of Sweden, though, and the show has many Nordic noir characteristics. Bleak shorelines, dangerous seas, dark forests, murky swamps – the landscape and climate have a role to play. Meanwhile, the people seem practical and uncomplicated, on the surface at least. Scratch below that, however, and plenty more is going on… And, as we all know, close-knit communities where people have hidden allegiances can only mean foul play.
As season two progresses, Karin Lossow and Ellen Norgaard will face four further criss-crossing cases – each encapsulated in a feature-length episode. In the second story, a robbery goes sideways resulting in a double murder, or so it seems. Episode three sees Karin back at the penitentiary, this time helping a woman who is appealing her conviction, while Ellen investigates a subsequent and connected murder. Then, Ellen works on the cold case of a woman who disappeared 12 years ago, amid a storyline involving World War II munitions washing up and polluting the seafront. Finally, there’s the carjacking and murder of a young architect, which looks like a revenge killing.
As heavy as these stories seem, The Nordic Murders is expertly made, with dark and dangerous plot lines kept moving through excellent visual storytelling, and a touch of unusual humour. You’ll witness a bull bison toppling the caravan Ellen Norgaard rents for accommodation, and bikers munching buttery crumble while eulogising their lost brother. With such eccentricities, perhaps the tone is similar to that of Midsomer Murders, although with the setting and a borderland vibe that mixes German and Polish cultures, The Nordic Murders seems a lot more interesting.
Before the second season begins, you may still some unfinished business from season one if you didn’t stream it. The final two episodes of the first series weren’t aired during the initial run, and you’ll be able to watch these from Friday 11 June at 9pm, also on More4.