Blu-ray review: Modus – Complete Season One

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Murder in a Winter Wonderland: A forensic psychologist and her daughter are drawn into the investigation of a series of murders.

Nordic Noir goes all festive with a Christmas thriller based on best-selling author and former Norwegian Minister of Justice Anne Holt’s novel Fear Not.

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Inger Johanne Vik (Melinda Kinnaman) has returned to Sweden after several years working for the FBI as a criminal profiler. Alongside her new career as a part-time university lecturer, she has published a book. Back in her homeland, she is determined to focus on her two daughters. Plans go awry when Inger attends her sister’s wedding reception.

A massive hit when it aired in Sweden, Modus was seen by 1.2 million people. Several other Anne Holt books have been optioned and a second season of Modus will start shooting in 2017. It’s Swedish broadcast coincided with Nordic Noir’s fiftieth anniversary. The series, and Anne Holt’s novel, follows in a long tradition of Scandinavian crime fiction highlighting the cracks in society.

Dark and dense, it explores the highly topical issues of hate crimes and radicalisation.

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The book was the fourth in Vik/Stubo series. Bringing it to screen the producers have shifted the action from Norway to Sweden. Changing location without weakening its cultural focus or softening its dramatic punch, Emmy award-winning screenwriters Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe zoned in on Anne Holt’s searing social commentary and crafted a series with international appeal. Already shattering records for ratings the series attempts to add to its list of achievements with an award for most characters in a Nordic drama. Boasting 52 speaking parts, more than any other Swedish series, it requires careful watching to get to know and keep up the seemingly constant stream of new faces.

A variation on the tried and tested amateur sleuth and police procedural formats, it occasionally plays out by-the-numbers. Nothing wrong with cliché in a genre but over-reliance on tried and tested routines and the audience will zone out. Pacing is uneven, the series loses momentum half-way through the run and only regains its stride in the final episode.

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Not top-drawer Scandi-drama but it does have thrilling moments. Occasionally playing out like a Nordic Noir greatest hits compilation it’s a stop gap until the next prestige series arrives.

The glue that binds Modus together and makes it watchable despite its faults, and dodgy American accents is some excellent performances. Esmeralda Struwe comes close to selling the series on her own with her convincing portrayal of an autistic teenager who has witnessed a murder and is unable to communicate what she has seen. Krister Henriksson demonstrates precisely why he is one of Sweden’s most in demand actors with a performance which constantly draws your attention. As the husband of a murdered bishop, he convincingly inhabits the character’s skin and is the centre of gravity for every scene he appears in.

Modus – Complete Season One is available on DVD and Blu-ray

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Bridge Over Nordic Water

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How a TV series is helping transform Malmö into a must visit destination: Sweden’s third largest city is the backdrop to a hit Scandi-crime series.

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Showing no signs off running out of steam the third season of Danish-Swedish crime series The Bridge has been a critical and ratings success throughout Scandinavia.

One of Scandinavian TV’s biggest exports, The Bridge has been screened in 174 countries. Interest in the series is at an all time high cementing the third season’s status as one of 2015’s most anticipated returning dramas.

Since The Bridge first aired on BBC Four Malmö has had an allure for fans of Nordic Noir eager to follow in the footsteps of Saga Norén and Martin Rhode. In tandem with the launch of the third season a series of events and activities have been organised that that will satisfy even the most ardent Saga Norén fans. 

Malmö Museer’s display of props, costumes, and set designs is a must visit destination for aficionados. Running until September 2016 the exhibition is entitled ‘A Non-Existent Malmö’. As the title reflects, The Bridge represents a Malmö that does not exist. The collection of exhibits invites visitors to consider what The Bridge’s success may say about contemporary Nordic society.

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Alongside Saga Norén’s costume and mustard coloured Porsche, the centrepiece of the exhibition is a concrete bunker which represents cracks in the welfare state. Visitors that peer through the fractured edifice will see props and costumes from all three seasons including amulets and animal masks from the second series.

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The exhibition also includes photographs, video clips, a map of Malmö locations featured in the series, and a large production bible which details the series creators’ key creative choices offering a revealing insight into the workings behind a hit TV series. Illuminating and engaging, the exhibition provides an exhaustive overview of The Bridge and its place in modern Scandinavian society.

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Fans eager to take the experience of being in Malmö to an entirely different level should book a place on the location tour.

Travelling around the city’s hotspots, its backstreets and deserted industrial plants, a guide reveals behind the scenes stories, explains how Malmö has been transformed in recent years, and offers insights into Swedish culture.

An on board DVD player screens clips enabling fans to compare locations with their appearance on screen.

The tour lets fans follow in the footsteps of on-screen detectives Saga Norén and Martin Rohde. Viewers will be surprised to discover that a doctor’s surgery doubles as the city’s police station in the series. Taking in Malmö locations featured prominently in the series the tour visits the exterior of Saga Norén’s apartment block and offers fans spectacular views of the Öresund Bridge. 

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Backdrop to three seasons of murder, intrigue, and international police co-operation, the Öresund Bridge is a symbol of cross-border harmony. Opened in 2000, the ten mile crossing has a deep meaning for Denmark and Sweden. Until 1658 Skåne County was part of Denmark and in the years between 1521 and 1814 the two nations went to war 27 times. An architectural triumph, the bridge represents close cultural and economic ties between countries that once waged war but have now found a lasting peace.

The Facts:

Fans making a pilgrimage to Sweden’s southern capital to inspect scenes of crimes featured in the series will experience a metropolis more vibrant than its small screen counterpart. A cosmopolitan city undergoing expansion and renewal, previously an industrial district Malmö is now at the forefront of cutting-edge developments in design. An international centre for innovation and culture, Malmö ranked fourth in Forbes 2013 list of the world’s most innovative cities. This future-facing metropolis is home to a diverse populace, the city’s residents speak 176 languages.

Easily accessible via Copenhagen Airport. The average rail journey time between airport terminal and Malmö Central is 20 minutes.

Further Information

Scandinavian Airlines offer direct flights to Copenhagen from London Heathrow, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Manchester:

https://www.flysas.com/uk/flights/denmark/

For more information about Malmö:

http://www.visitsweden.com/sweden/Regions–Cities/Malmo/

Find information about The Bridge exhibition at Malmö Museer and tickets for The Bridge Tour here:

http://www.malmotown.com/en/?s=bridge#thebridge

Download your personal Bridge mini guide to Malmö here:

http://www.visitsweden.com/PageFiles/45269/VS_THEBRIDGETHREE_MINIGUIDE_PR.pdf

The Öresund Bridge: Photo © Janus Langhorn /imagebank.sweden.se

DVD Review: Crimes of Passion

Arrow Films’ latest DVD Crimes of Passion release demonstrates Scandinavia has a long history of crime fiction. In the decades before Nordic Noir’s emergence writers put a distinctly Scandinavian spin on the detective story.

Sweden’s first “Queen of crime fiction”, Maria Lang (real name Dagmar Lange) is frequently compared to Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. Writing in an era before Larssen, Nekker, and Mennkell had popularised Nordic Noir her novels were part of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. A prolific author, she produced a novel a year between 1949 to 1990. Fondly remembered by many of the current crop of Swedish crime novelists, Camilla Läckberg has mentioned reading Lang’s books in her youth.

In Lang’s hands the traditional murder-mystery became less cosy and more adventurous. Daring, for the time, references to illicit relationships, and same sex partnerships set her work apart from anything being produced by her English counterparts.

Most of her novels are set in the fictional township Skoga, based loosely upon the author’s home town of Nora.

Adapted from Lang’s early novels, Crimes of Passion is a series of six feature films set in 1950s Sweden. The period is authentically recreated via meticulously researched clothing and hairstyles along with an impressive array of vintage motor vehicles.

Doctoral student Puck ( Tuva Novotny) is studying crime fiction. When we first meet her she is lecturing on Zola’s Thérèse Raquin. Invited to a midsummer party on a small island she embraces the opportunity to go somewhere without a telephone. Celebrations are cut short when Puck discovers that one of the guests has been strangled by a silk scarf. Every person who attended the party is a suspect. Teaming up with Eje (Linus Wahlgren) and Commissioner Wijk (Ola Rapace of Wallander and Skyfall) this intrepid trio sifts through the evidence, determined to stay alive and catch the killer.

From a remote island in Bergslagen through to a vicarage on Christmas Eve, this courageous threesome faces murder wherever they travel.

Reverent without being too referential, the programme is faithful to the books and era. The production team have left themselves with enough room to add some creative flourishes whilst honouring the source material. Sumptuously photographed, the cinematography is composed of rich colours. Karl & Pär Frid’s score echoes the sounds of a pre Rock and Roll era. A Saul Bass inspired title sequence pays homage to his work for Alfred Hitchcock and doffs a Fedora hat to Mad Men.

Deceptively familiar, the series mostly adheres to the established framework familiar to Miss Marple fans of a murder in an isolated community being investigated by an amateur sleuth albeit with the addition of sexual tension and greater emphasis on psychological realism. Acknowledging its influences for all to see, the first episode references Christie’s “And Then There Were None”.

Definitely old fashioned and yet, paradoxically, thoroughly modern. The opening episode wrong-foots viewers by following the Christie template until a revelation reminds viewers that they are firmly in Scandinavian crime fiction territory. A stylish production with superb performances from the series regulars. Eagle-eyed fans of Nordic Noir films and TV shows will spot actors from Arne Dahl, Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves, and Let the Right One In.

Six feature length films that will delight period drama and whodunnit aficionados.

Crimes of Passion is available to order from Amazon.

 

DVD Review: Anno 1790

Arrow Films’ Nordic Noir imprint powers up its very own time machine and transports us to the tail end of the eighteenth century with an audacious series that is equal parts criminal investigation, romance, political drama, and conspiracy thriller set against a background of immense social and constitutional transformation. The Age of Enlightenment was a time in which the world we know was being born. Reason battled with religion for the hearts and minds of the age. Europe may have been steeped in blood from wars and revolutions, its people tired of seeing its young men being needlessly slaughtered in military campaigns but by 1790 the continent was plunged into a conflict that had to be waged. The stakes were very high, liberation from the dark ages and the creation of a new society in which reason and science prevailed. Across the continent aftershocks from the French Revolution were still being felt. Ruling elites were fearful of contagion and rebels plotted in darkened corners to overthrow the existing regimes and replace them with more egalitarian and democratically accountable models.

Created by Johan Mardell ( former head of Fiction at SVT and Head of Production at Svensk Filmindustri) and Jonas Frykberg (The Girl who Played with Fire), Anno 1790 was an ambitious undertaking from Pampas Production. Mardell’s initial aim was to create a series unlike anything else on Swedish television. By marrying the crime thriller with a historical drama Mardell and Frykberg soon realized that the dramatic possibilities afforded by not being able to rely upon modern technology to solve a plot point opened up a panoply of possible storylines. With location filming undertaken in Stockholm’s historic quarters matched alongside some highly detailed sets constructed inside an abandoned hangar in Kumla, Anno 1790 is one of the most lavishly budgeted shows to have been commissioned by Swedish broadcaster SVT. Unflinching in its recreation of life in the 1800s, the series valiantly elects not to over sentimentalize the past, instead demonstrating the harshness of life for ordinary citizens and explores the extent to which institutionally sanctioned inequalities may breed discontent.

The Russo-Swedish war is in its final stages. Our hero, Johan Gustav Dåådh (Peter Eggers) is tending the wounds of injured military personnel. Emotionally torn between the need to alleviate suffering and finding a way to end this senseless conflict Dåådh is a Republican with an interest in science and a strong belief in French Revolution’s ideals. Openly expressing such views within a year of the French revolution’s opening salvo was very dangerous. Across Europe, governments feared replication and would meter out severe forms of torture to those suspected of fermenting sedition. Seeking aid as he tries to offer medical assistance to the battleground’s weak, weary, and wounded Dåådh enlists the services of borderline alcoholic, and fervent Christian, Simon Freund (Joel Spira). This pairing of rationalist and spiritual believer provides a dramatically satisfying way to illustrate the key debate of the Enlightenment era, science versus religion, in a form that is consistent with what we know of this period from surviving historical texts. Suffering a gunshot wound, Freund fears that his life may be about to end and attempts to make the atheist physician swear a religious oath he will return the corpse to the family estate. Freund’s wound is not fatal and despite not having vocalized a vow Dåådh escorts him back home. As tutor to the children of Carl Fredrik Wahlstedt (Johan Hson Kjellgren), the commissioner of Stockholm’s constabulary Freund is a gateway to a realm of society which, by its very existence, is diametrically opposed to Dåådh’s ideological beliefs. Image

The age of the resurrectionists was not quite over in 1790. Knowledge of human anatomy was an emerging field and in private conversation with a city official Dåådh admits that having delivered Freund he is eager to bid farewell so he can return to an academy in order to further his knowledge, unaware that he will soon have ample opportunity to do so as he is forced to perform an autopsy on a local dignitary found dead in a prostitute’s boudoir. By offering assistance in the murder investigation Dåådh’s is instantly placed in opposition against the Republican sympathizers with whom he previously consorted. The offer of permanent employment enables Dåådh to slowly transform the system from within ensuring that henceforth justice is to be administered in a merciful form. Any strides he may make in transforming the judicial process are viewed with deep suspicion by his former allies. Balancing on a double-edged sword, Dåådh must not attract attention from those in the political arena who may regard his personal beliefs to be treasonous. Struggling to deny his love for Magdelena Wahlstedt (Linda Zilliacus), the wife of the police chief constable, Dåådh lives with an ever-present fear that discovery would permanently exclude him from her company and also result in his post being filled by a competitor with less socially progressive views on how to police the city. Image

As a historical costume drama comparisons will inevitably be made with the feature film A Royal Affair and miraculously Anno 1790 manages to equal the movie’s aesthetics on a considerably lower TV budget. Some intriguing stylistic choices have been made by the art director, specifically in the use of colour, demonstrating how much in accord the creative team was in terms of communicating the creator’s collective vision and understanding the script’s subtextual material. Anno 1790 is a superlative production, containing some of the most intriguing screen moments to have occurred since the explosion of interest in Nordic films and TV. It transposes the tropes of the modern police procedural onto a historical drama and in doing so teasingly invites the viewer to comment upon how little our society may have changed despite whatever progress we may think has occurred in the ensuing centuries. Offering a glimpse into the early development of pathology as an investigative tool alongside the foundations of modern Swedish parliamentary democracy, Anno 1790 is an undiscovered classic awaiting its moment in the spotlight. A benchmark example of Nordic Noir, the series can be compared favourably to A Royal Affair, The Killing, and Borgen. Possibly the finest series you’ve never seen it should find a welcome home amongst any Scandi fan’s DVD library,

Anno 1790 is available to order from Amazon. 

DVD Review: Arne Dahl

81EOVs67rDL._SL1500_ In the recently published Nordic Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Film & TV Barry Forshaw evaluated Sweden’s rich legacy in terms of contributions to the genre. As well as being the largest country, in geographical terms, within the Scandinavian region Sweden has been a dominant force within crime fiction ever since Sjöwall and Wahlöö created a new template which used the genre’s conventions to explore contemporary social issues. More recently Henning Mankell and Steig Larrson have continued and advanced this tradition with significant critical and commercial rewards. Into this ever enlarging cannon of Swedish crime writers comes a new name, Arne Dahl.

Whilst amassing a substantial number of published credits since 1990 it was in 1998 that literary critic Jan Arnald gave birth to his better known Arne Dahl pseudonym and started writing crime fiction in tandem with his more analytical journalistic output . In the years since the publication of the first Intercrime novel, The Blinded Man (originally entitled Misterioso) the Arne Dahl books have sold more than 2.5 million copies, been translated into 25 languages published in over 30 countries and been the recipient of several high profile prizes including both Danish and German Crime Writing Awards. p01jwpz7 With Jan Arnald/Arne Dahl’s profile riding high on the back of BBC Four’s screening of the series, Arrow Films has given the show a DVD release and Random House imprint Vintage is publishing English language translations of the first two Intercrime novels, The Blinded Man and Bad Blood with the promise of To the Top of the Mountain and Europa Blues to follow later in the year.

Produced by production company Filmlance, for Sweden’s equivelent of the BBC, SVT, Arne Dahl is a ten part series that adapts fhe first five Intercrime novels. Demonstrating their commitment to making the best possible crime show Filmlance have ensured that some of the finest directors currently working in Swedish television get to helm episodes, most notably Harald Hamrell who is best known to fans of Scandinavian TV for Beck and Real Humans. Arne Dahl The novels are some of the most intelligent examples of crime fiction to have been translated into English within recent years. Each book is densely packed with social and cultural information wrapped up in a bow made of gripping tension. To ensure that they produced adaptations which did the books justice and yet played to the strengths of TV as a medium Filmlance secured the services of Arne Dahl in an advisory capacity, Taking an active interest in the scripting and casting Dahl made sure that overall spirit of his prose was not compromised.

The first Intercrime novel, The Blinded Man, was published in the late ’90s and some minor modifications were required to bring the stories bang up to date most notably in terms of home entertainment technology, working practices, and greater strides with regards gender equality in the recruitment of senior police officer.s. That the overall beats of the story remain relatively unchanged is testament to Dahl’s understanding of the criminal psyche and some excellent plotting. The series focuses on an elite team within the Swedish police force known as the A-Unit. The team investigates new forms of criminality that have begun to appear in Sweden since globalisation became a reality. Headed by CID inspector Jenny Hultin (Irene Lindh) the A-Unit explore the darker recesses of modern Swedish society. Cases that are too sensitive or specialised for regular police departments are passed on to the team, Amongst the cases that they investigate is an attempt to put capitalism at risk by a serial killer targeting financiers, the use of Vietnam War era execution methods, a drug barons concealing his crimes, and the murder of a neuroscientist which triggers an even more more sinister chain of events.

Hand-picked by Hultin, each team member has specific skills which must be combined those of their colleagues in order to solve the case and apprehend the guilty party. It is only when functioning as a team that progress can be made but Arne Dahl has saddled each member with enough baggage to break the back of the most strong willed of people. Private tensions are such that at times it seems as though professional and private lives may simultaneously self destruct. 35420 At the start of the series we are introduced to Paul Hjelm (Shanti Ronay), an idealistic officer with a spotless career record who throws the rule book out of the window when he makes a judgement call during a siege that saves a life knowing that it might terminate his career. More alive when on the beat than at home he needs the A-Unit not only only to save his career but also to give his life meaning. With each other team member we see echoes of Hjelm’s fractured self, whatever professional accolades they have earnt has been at a great cost to their emotional well-being. Paradoxically, it is only when operating as a team that old wounds are healed and long standing psychological scars are healed.

In terms of both the fiction and production this a very well cast series. The team members function as individual components of a group psyche as such are less effective when separated from the gestalt. As any media professional will testify casting a series is an inexact science based on personal hunches that don’t always pay off but with this series they have secured the services of first rate actors who perfectly inhabit the skin of the characters they are playing. That Gunnar Nyberg (Magnus Samuelson) is played to great effect and with remarkable sensitivity by a former winner of the World’s Strongest Man contest shatters an ill founded myth that people from other disciplines can’t enter the acting profession and experience anything resembling success. The guest roles are also cast with absolute precision but the standout performances is given by Cesar Sarachu as the Obi-Wan like Cleaner who imparts mystical information at the right moment.

Arne Dahl is that most remarkable of things; a success in both mediums in spite or because each has been specifically tailored . Dahl’s career as a literary critic means that he has an acute sense of what constitutes a really cracking narrative but, thankfully, he knows precisely when to leave his more esoteric hat at the door thereby ensuring that the emotional journey follows at its own pace and is not dictated by a theoretical model. The series is an essential edition to any Scandi fans DVD library. Once the DVDs have been watched and rewatched go out and buy the books – precision perfect prose and enough subtle differences to make savouring the stories all over again worthwhile.

Arne Dahl can be ordered on DVD from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Arne-Dahl-Complete-Series-DVD/dp/B00C7Q25EO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370727377&sr=8-1&keywords=arne+dahl

Both The Blinded Man and Bad Blood are available from Amazon; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blinded-Man-Intercrime-thriller-ebook/dp/B008FY4T82/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1370727377&sr=8-3&keywords=arne+dahl

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Blood-Intercrime-thriller-ebook/dp/B00CQ1D50I/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1 Image

Arne Dahl – Bad Blood Part One

Regular viewers of BBC Four’s Saturday evening foreign language slot may have become accustomed to deferral with regards the resolution of whatever drama they might be enjoying at any particular moment. Knowing that they might have to watch ten hours of television to finally learn who perpetrated a particular crime and the motive behind such a heinous act, the committed viewer might consider the several weeks spent watching various stages of the police’s investigation to be one element that contributes to their overall appreciation of the show. Piecing together various clues contained within the narrative over a prolonged period of time the viewer may try to predict the eventual outcome ahead of the series’ detectives and at the end express delight at getting it right, frustration due to being utterly wrong, or simultaneously being stunned and ecstatic over an unexpected twist that took the conclusion in a totally unexpected direction thereby rendering all forecasts invalid. Furthermore, this specific mode of seriality is enjoyed by active enthusiasts who engage in regular fan based online communication as competing perspectives on plot points and character actions are shared, and discussed. That BBC Four’s current series Arne Dahl‘s narrative disequilibriums are resolved within the space of two Saturdays as opposed to several weeks creates a very different viewing dynamic. The series is comprised of five two part stories as opposed to a lengthy serial narrative thus  enabling the audience to dip and out whenever she or he wishes to do so without the fear that not seeing a couple of editions will make it very hard to comprehend what might occur in later segments. Every second Saturday becomes a first night in terms of story and the potential for a different relationship between show and audience is an interesting development, rather than maintain a consistent core group of viewers what might happen is that new and curious spectators sample fresh storylines whilst others might withdraw until the next one.

The commencement of a second story, Bad Blood, sourced from a novel originally entitled Ont blod facilitates us being able to compare it to the previous two parter in order to evaluate a number of factors including, but not exclusively, possible tropes which might be specific to this series, development of character arcs, changes in tonal quality, and improvements in the overall quality. Additional episodes may confirm any observations made or subvert all previously held assumptions so on that basis critical commentary concerning the series, as opposed to individual segments, is provisional due to it being too early in the run to make any prescriptive statements.

It might perhaps be unfair to compare Arne Dahl to Danish series on a like-for-like basis due to country specific broadcasting factors and cultural cues that have given this series its distinctive stylistic signature so wherever possible I attempt to resist the temptation to refer to other series which have been transmitted by BBC Four or released on DVD by Arrow Films.

Adapted for television by SVT, the Swedish company that brought The Bridge to our screens and who will soon become the source of much praise when the excellent Anno 1790 and Real Humans are released on DVD in the UK, Arne Dahl has arrived on our shores having proven to be the most successful property that we had never heard of until a few weeks ago. Some 2.5 million books have been sold in Europe and this figure will no doubt be enhanced now that Vintage have begun issuing English language translations. The profile of the TV series and range of books the author may be increased following the author’s forthcoming tour of selected the UK and Irish book stores. .

With each subsequent episode we become better acquainted with this series and assumptions based on pre-transmission publicity are constantly being modified by the new narrative information enabling us able to accept it on its own terms, rather than in comparison to any other series, and find elements that are pleasing.

The first part of the second story, Bad Blood, has a darker texture than that of The Blinded Man. Having introduced the A-group in the previous two-parter and established its modus operandi, team members, their specific skills, whilst giving tantalising glimpses of how they will interact with each other the new scenario benefits from not being burdened with having to perform scene setting and selling thereby enabling the writer to open this edition assured that the overall story-world has been successfully communicated.

This episode is packed with incident and a number of enigmas that playfully invites the viewer to see how these separate elements are connected. The script is one part Chinese puzzle and other part cat’s cradle. It throws up several scenarios each of which could conceivably be the sole basis for a book or movie but here they merge, separate and conflict at various points, often simultaneously. Deferral, as a form of pleasure is intertwined with the exhilarating thrill of watching whatever action is happening at any give moment. Trying to figure out how each event will be resolved in the next episode and ways an individual plot element might be knitted into the killer’s motivation is something this series encourages.

Acting on a tip off from an FBI operative, Jenny Hultin and the members of A-group race to Arlanda Airport aware that a serial killer may be en route to Sweden from Newark, New Jersey. Boarding the plane could create a hostage scenario and lead to unnecessary death so Hultin makes a judgement call, allowing passengers to disembark as normal hoping that this will not alarm the killer. Closing a busy airport for the purpose of apprehending a suspect is not an option in this instance as the team has scant information about the killer’s identity and physical appearance so the only available option is to patrol the arrival area scanning for any signs of suspicious information until the FBI provides more a detailed description of the suspect.

Reprising a motif from The Blinded Man, criminality is imported into Sweden necessitating cross boarder multi-agency co-operation and causing the series’ budgeting department to have serious headaches over how to arrange the finances to balance the budget so that the filming schedule  includes some overseas filming. Last time we were taken to Estonia and now the audience, along with Jenny Hutlin, is taken on a whistle stop tour of New York. It would have been very easy for the director to redress some European streets but the producers have decided, possibly with an eye on American sales, that a trip to the U.S.A. is a worthwhile investment and it gives off the impression that the creative team behind this series have absolute faith in the novel they are adapting and believe having a character walking against a green screened composite would sabotage any attempts at convincing the audience this is a translation into a different medium that respects the originating novel.

The New York based sequences continues the adoption of Americana which was a an important element in the preceding story, specifically, though not exclusively, through the use of diagetic and non-diagetic music. Confident that viewers are visually literate in terms of identifying cinematic and TV reference points the soundtrack designer has thrown in some mournful jazz chords which alongside visual nods to The Sopranos and William Friedkin’s The French Connection celebrates the city’s rich heritage in terms of crime fiction and rewards those who pick up on these Easter Eggs.

The gruesome methodology applied by the killer and how it is represented on camera might be another occasion in which themes thus far present in each episode are applied to both protagonists and antagonists; penetration and religiosity. David Fincher’s Se7en provided a template for exploring and representing of serial killer activity and both Jan Arnald/Arne Dahl’s text and the director refer back to it at selected moments.

In addition to the primary plot, individual members of the A-group are fleshed out and it is here that we finally get to know them as characters as opposed to cyphers. Their dreams, whether realized or thwarted are slowly being revealed to us in terms of professional and personal decisions they have made over the years and how this has impacted upon where they are at this precise moment .

Now that this series is starting to emerge from the shadows of other series aired in this slot on BBC Four it’s with this third episode I am finally sold on the emotional and investigative journey that the A-group will travel on over the coming weeks and am very keen to see the remaining seven episodes and acquire the books as English language editions become available over the next few months. If the author is reading this, please give the cleaner his own show.

Arne Dahl will shortly be released on DVD;

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Arne-Dahl-Complete-Series-DVD/dp/B00C7Q25EO/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1366762215&sr=8-3&keywords=arne+dahl

The book of Bad Blood is available from Amazon and all other booksellers;

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Blood-second-Intercrime-thriller/dp/0099575698/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1366762315&sr=8-2&keywords=arne+dahl+bad+blood

Tickets are still available for Jan Arnald/Arne Dahl’s appearance at the Piccadilly branch of Waterstones;

http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayDetailEvent.do?searchType=2&store=279%7CWATERSTONE’S%20PICCADILLY&sFilter=1

Arne Dahl: The Blinded Man Part One

Bild aus: Arne Dahl: Misterioso

As an experiment this review has been written whilst the episode aired on BBC4. Aside from proofreading to edit any grammatical errors no further changes have been made to the content.

Although his published credits dates back to 1990, it is with the 1998 printing of Misterioso that Jan Arnald embarked upon a critically and commercially successful career as a crime novelist which would run in parallel with his literary criticism and journalistic output. The use of multiple identities (Jan Arnold and the pseudonym Arne Dahl) is not a secret known only to a privileged few within media circles but enables the author and his publisher to issue titles to specific audiences without fear that a fan of one specific mode of writing will not feel aggrieved should they accidentally purchase a title that they would not ordinarily consider reading.

It is under the pen name Arne Dahl that Arnald has enjoyed his most significant marketplace penetration. Over a ten year period Arnald authored a series of crime novels about a division within CID that is alternatively referred to as the A team or Intercrime. Individual members of this team are recruited on the basis of research specialisms, career record, and biographical information which may be pertinent to a specific investigation. Whilst Arnald’s Intercrime novels have already been translated into several languages, including English, a set of new editions is to shortly be issued at regular intervals via Vintage Books. Am unable to ascertain if the reprints will employ the same translation as previous editions or if the publisher has commissioned a fresh conversion. However, in line with the TV adaptations that have been brought to us courtesy of the BBC and Arrow Films the first book, Misterioso, has been rebranded as The Blinded Man. Although ten books were written as part of Arnald’s Intecrime series this TV adaptation is sourced from the first five. Each book is spread across two ninety minute episodes. That the source of narrative tension is resolved within the space of three hours creates a very different viewing dynamic to that which enthusiasts have reported experiencing when watching The Killing or The Bridge but alternatively might facilitate new modes of appreciation amongst fans of Nordic TV.

The Intercrime division is tasked with investigating new breeds of criminality that have emerged in Sweden since the assassination of Olef Palme. In terms of lawlessness as a social development, the ever changing relationship with former Soviet states with regards judicial courses of action and the ease with which relaxed borders enable the importation of illegal practices is a central theme found in many examples of contemporary Scandinavian crime fiction and due to the nature of the illegal activity contained in this opening episode its inclusion is simultaneously inevitable, edifying, and gratifying.

A serial killer is targeting wealthy businessmen and in this première installment the police must gather evidence to ascertain any potential connections between the deceased, prevent further murders from taking place, explore all possible motives that might have triggered this wave of assassinations, and catch the executioner. Although billed as a series revolving around an ensemble cast, the first episode primarily focuses on Paul Hjelm (Shanti Roney), a police officer whose entire career is jeopardized when he implements what he feels is to be a socially responsible method of ending a hostage crises. One that enables the captor to live, albeit wounded by gunshot, and for his family to evade deportation. Whilst being interviewed by an internal investigation team he is head-hunted by Jenny Hultin (Irene Lindl) on the basis of his previous exemplary career record. The appointment to the A-team is provisional and Hjelm is warned that it might be terminated at any moment should the internal investigation find he is guilty of unprofessional conduct. As is the norm with TV detectives Hjelm’s devotion to upholding the law means his private life suffers. He displays a highly developed level of sympathy when interviewing the surviving victim of a sexual attack and later on when encountering the grief deranged brother of another victim who was so traumatized by the experience that she took her own life. This ability to empathize with others and alleviate their distress doesn’t translate into the home context. Hjelm’s life partner is made to worry unnecessarily about his career for several hours due to his not accepting her telephone calls.

Although Hjelm is the primary identification figure that enables the viewer to access the fictional world contained within the narrative biographical information concerning other members of the team is relayed primarily in the form of dramatic action as opposed to expository dialogue. For instance, the precarious balance between domestic and professional duties is exemplified in a scene in which Arto Söderstedt (Niklas Åkerfelt) is eager to reach his workplace but in attempting to deliver his children to the school he manages to drive off leaving a son behind.

In the latter moments of the episode the televisual canvas broadens as Viggo Norlander (Claes Ljungmark) travels to Talinn, Estonia to investigate a potential lead concerning a Russian mafia organization. In the final minutes of this sequence the occasional references to mythological belief systems that have up until now been loosely threaded suddenly function as foreshadowing. in the course of ninety minutes we’ve been treated to explanations of various elements of historical Nordic belief systems and the episode closes with a re-enactment of the crucifixion narrative paralleled with a team member engaged in a worshipful act, choir singing.

Within a very packed ninety minutes this first episode covers a tremendous amount of story information. A number of tropes present in other Nordic Noir shows we have seen over the last few years are present; threats against the feminine, distaste for excessive capitalism, issues surrounding immigration, and policing as destructive to the family unit. However, at present aside from Hjelm I’m left with a nagging feeling that I don’t know the other characters well enough to sympathize with them but this may change in the coming weeks as I get better acquainted with Arnald’s fictional world.

Arne Dahl is available to pre-order on DVD:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00C7Q25EO/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_ediyrb0DJJK91

The book of The Blinded Man is available to buy from Amazon and all other booksellers;

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blinded-Man-first-Intercrime-thriller/dp/009957568X/ref=la_B003ZDK4LY_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365285453&sr=1-1

For further information on Arne Dahl and Scandinavian fiction Barry Forshaw’s book Nordic Noir – Pocket Essentials is the best place to start;

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nordic-Pocket-Essentials-Barry-Forshaw/dp/1842439871/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1365285493&sr=1-1&keywords=barry+forshaw