Back in 2020, we nearly blew up our servers by posting a preview of Nordic Murders when its first season was broadcast in the UK by Channel 4. The article remains one of our most popular to this day. What is it about this German crime show that people love so much? Tell us!
Now the fourth series is about to arrive, and it too is bound to raise eyebrows. From Friday 20 October, UK residents will be able to stream the three new feature-length episodes with subtitles on Walter Presents. Frankly, you’ll be amazed by what you see…
Here’s the background. Although it’s been called Nordic Murders by Walter Presents, the programme’s German title is Der Usedom-Krimi and in the US it’s been called Baltic Crimes. The setting is the island of Usedom in Northeast Germany, just near the Polish border. Usedom is a bit like Cabot Cove – a remote, quaint seaside town, lively in the summer, quiet in the winter and with plenty of holiday homes that rich people can escape to. Oh, and its murder rate is spectacular compared to the German national average.
The main characters are Commissioner Ellen Norgaard (Rikke Lylloff) and Karin Losslow (Katrin Sass). The former is a police detective with a two-year-old son and the latter is an ex-district prosecutor who murdered her husband, served her time and came back to Usedom to be with her daughter, Julia, who is no longer on the scene. (See season two.) Karin and Ellen are now friends and the former helps the latter with her cases, and child care.
The first episode of season four is messy in so many ways and it will make your jaw drop to the floor. While questioning a suspect about a hit-and-run, Ellen receives a call. She cuts off the interview, sneaks out of work and meets a man for sex in the parking garage. It’s the famous crime reporter Jonas Gomez (Nikolai Kinski). Later that day, Gomez’s wife is found bludgeoned to death in their holiday home by the landscape gardener. Rather than reveal her relationship with Gomez, Ellen works the case, messes with evidence and tries to hide their affair – even though to her colleagues this could make her look like a suspect.
Scarcely believable, the storyline grows increasingly implausible but keep in mind that this is a series that has always stretched bounds of plausibility. Soon, Karin is helping Ellen evade scrutiny, carrying out errands for her and helping her avoid certain witnesses who might recognise her as Gomez’s mistress. The way Ellen behaves around her colleagues is bizarre but they seem more preoccupied with Gomez’s fame, biscuits and just about anything other than normal police procedure.
The drama, the scenery, some of the issues raised and the acting are all things that make Nordic Murders interesting and if the plot doesn’t bother you then you may well love it. It’s fairly light in tone most of the time, gets a little raunchy here and there, and does have its dark moments. Not a million miles away from Murder, She Wrote.
The second episode of season four covers the investigation into the death of a teenager called Theo who has attended law courses led by Karin at the local high school. He’s been found dead under the cliffs and Rainer Witt (Till Firit) leads the police investigation into the death. This episode looks at bullying, adolescence and abuse in schools.
The third episode involves a visit to Ystad for policeman Holm Brendel and Karin. They’re there to take in the world of the popular Swedish crime author Arvid Johansson – a Nordic noir nod to Henning Mankell and his Wallander books, perhaps? However, a woman goes missing on the ferry and Karin feels bound to investigate. Meanwhile, there will be changes among the top brass in the Usedom police station. One of the main themes here is domestic violence.
All three originally aired in October 2022 in Germany. At the time of writing, further episodes are in production.
For more German crime fiction, try the Chastity Riley series by Simone Buchholz.