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Five Great European Crime Thrillers

Do you think that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is too upbeat? Are you tired of watching good looking TV cops run around an obvious back lot in sunny LA? And are you curious to see if that language course you took in college really paid off?

Then why not try one of these chilly European thrillers.

The Killing (Forbrydelsen)

The series that put Nordic Noir on the map, made a icon out of Sofie Gråbøl's determined Detective Sarah Lund, and caused sales of Faroese jumpers to skyrocket. Just try to avoid the American remake at all cost.

The Bridge (Broen/Bron)

Like The Killing, this series was given an inferior American remake as well as a British/French version entitled The Tunnel. The bridge in question is the Øresund Bridge, which connects the Swedish city of Malmö with the Danish capital, Copenhagen. The first season follows a pair of detectives from both countries (Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia) as they investigate when a body is dumped on the bridge at the exact border between Denmark and Sweden. Bodnia left the show after the first two seasons and was replaced by Thure Lindhardt for the final two. Although a little absurd at times, The Bridge never fails to keep you engrossed and features one of the 21st century's finest detectives in Helin's Saga Norén.

Spiral (Engrenages)

Set in the Paris you don't see in the movies, the Emmy winning Spiral takes a good hard look at the French justice system and does not like what it sees. Each season starts with a murder (and a particularly gruesome one at that) and follows the investigation from every angle (the cops, the lawyers, the prosecutors, the judges, even the criminals themselves). Seven seasons have been produced so far with a eighth currently shooting. A word of warning, this show is not for the fainthearted.


There have been many adaptations of Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander books, the most well known being the BBC series starring Kenneth Branagh. But for my money, this Swedish series, starring Krister Henriksson as the dour detective, remains the definitive Wallander.

Trapped (Ófærð)

Like most of the series on this list, this chilly and claustrophobic Icelandic thriller starts off with the discovery of a body, or to be more precise, what's left of one. A mutilated torso is found floating in the harbour of Seyðisfjörðurn, an isolated village in eastern Iceland, shortly before a ferry arrives from Denmark. At the same time a ferocious storm engulfs the entire town, cutting it off from the outside world. In true Twin Peaks fashion, the subsequent investigation lifts the lid on this sleepy little fishing village, revelling all the dirty little secrets the locals have been keeping hidden from each other.

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to add Babylon Berlin to the list, though its Berlin Decadence setting gives it a different sensibility than the the nordic noirs.


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