Erica Falck (Claudia Galli Concha) is a best-selling crime novelist. After her parents die in a car accident, Erica and her policeman husband Patrik (Richard Ulfsater) inherit their house in the picturesque fishing village of Fjallbacka, where Erica and her sister Anna grew up. Even before Erica has completely moved in a strange man suddenly wanders into her living room, declaring that he is the older brother Erica knew nothing about. Erica sends him away and, by the time she has a change of heart and tries to find out more, the man has been murdered. A DNA test of the corpse proves that he was telling the truth, and when Erica investigates further she unearths disconcerting secrets from her mother’s past involving a prominent Neo-Nazi and a Swedish war hero. Meanwhile, people around her are starting to be killed.
The other stories in the series include the sudden death of Fjallbacka’s local photographer (who may not have been as sweet as many people think), the disappearance of a young girl during the Christmas ‘Queen of Light’ celebrations, the death of two divers that may be connected to a two centuries-old shipwreck and a supposedly cursed nautical map and, when Erica’s sister returns to the village and falls for the host of an ‘Antiques Roadshow’ type TV programme, she finds herself implicated in a murder.
If you think The Fjallbacka Murders sounds like a stylish collision of ‘Midsomer Murders’ and ‘The Killing’, you’d be right. It’s a good-looking and undemanding crime melodrama that’s as comfortable as your favourite pair of (gum)shoes, with a terrifically likeable heroine who’s almost a grown up version of Nancy Drew. Based on a series of books by author Camilla Lackberg, it’s inevitable that some episodes are better than others and the stories quickly fall into formula with villains that are often easy to predict, but there are generally enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.
As far as visuals are concerned, the photogenic locale of Fjallbacka (which is a real place, so it would be interesting to know what effect this series – with dead bodies seemingly on every corner - has done for tourism) is markedly less gloomy than we’re used to seeing in other Nordic dramas, and the frequent flashbacks to historical events are particularly well handled, especially during the shipwreck episode.
Sure, fans of TV crime drama will have seen all of this many times before, but isn’t that half the fun? With excellent performances, sharp writing and some occasionally beautiful cinematography, ‘The Fjallbacka Murders’ is well worth checking out.
THE FJALLBACKA MURDERS / CERT 15 /
DIRECTORS & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: CLAUDIA GALLI, RICHARD
ULFSATER, SOFIA ZOUAGUI, EMMA SWENNIGER, LENNART JAHKEL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW