Clear your viewing calendar for the latest Nordic noir crime drama series to arrive on this side of the fjords: Rebecka Martinsson, which premiered in the US this morning.
Life interrupted my plans this past weekend, including my intention to binge-watch the screeners for the entire season of Rebecka Martinsson. What I accomplished was watching the first two stories (four episodes) back to back. If my body’s need for sleep didn’t kick in at stupid o’clock, I would have kept going. I was that engrossed.
The series is based on four of the “Rebecka Martinsson” crime novels by Åsa Larsson, and stars Ida Engvoll (Bonus Family, A Man Called Ove) as the eponymous tax attorney.
The first story, “The Blood Spilt,” opens with a mother frantically escaping her rural home with her young son and hiding in the church across the field, only to discover a dead body.
In Stockholm, Rebecka is offered a partnership at the prestigious firm of Meijer & Ditzinger, minutes before she gets a call about the death of Mildred Nilsson, a woman who’d been like a mother to her when she was a child.
With just a hint of hesitation, Rebecka returns to her hometown of Kurravaara in Kiruna, located beyond the Arctic Circle in the far north of Sweden, to attend Mildred’s funeral. In visiting the home of the widower, Rebecka finds clues that point to the possibility of Mildred having been murdered, and brings them to Anna-Maria Mella (Eva Melander, Modus), an inspector with the Kiruna Police.
(As an aside, Anna-Maria reminds me so much of Marge Gunderson, Frances McDormand’s Academy Awards®-winning role in the film Fargo.)
Anyhoo, Anna-Maria reopens the case, originally deemed death by accident, and she, her partner Sven-Erik Stålnacke (Thomas Oredsson, Beck), and Rebecka begin their hunt for a killer.
Mildred, the local vicar, was not well-liked by many in the small community, particularly members of the hunting club. But when Rebecka finds clues about an illegal activity that Mildred had engaged in, the investigation is widened. Then another corpse is discovered.
In “The Black Path,” an ice fisherman, caught in a snowstorm in Abisko, loses his trailer to the howling winds, but is fortunate to find shelter from the sub-zero temperatures in another trailer on the frozen lake. There he finds the dead body of a young woman.
Back in Kurravaara, Rebecka is released from the psychiatric hospital, where she had checked herself in following the horrific events she witnessed, and shared a smoke break with a patient (who reminds me of Gwendoline Christie from Game of Thrones). She’s also approached by District Attorney Alva Björnfot (Gunilla Röör, Livet i Fagervik) about taking the job of public prosecutor, which she does.
Meanwhile, Anna-Maria, Sven-Erik, and their team begin their investigation into the murder of the unidentified victim. A bit of Jeopardy-like banter reveals she was Inna Dufva, the PR manager for Kellis Mining. Evidence found at the original crime scene, combined with the pathologist’s report, indicates Inna was tortured before being murdered.
While Rebecka delves into the mining company’s financials, she does other digging and turns up a news report about Kellis doing business with an Australian company accused of human rights abuses. She also pulls a bit of underhandedness that contributes to her losing her new job, which precipitates her having what appears to be a breakdown or a severe meltdown at the least.
Enter hunky cop Krister Eriksson (Jakob Öhrman, 8-Ball) — not Rebecka’s Stockholm-based lover and law firm colleague Måns Wenngren (Niklas Engdahl, Bonus Family), who’s in Kiruna for a few days — to save her. Yet she ends up back at the psychiatric hospital…
Soon thereafter, in near-zero visibility, is a shoot-out…
The final two stories are based on the novels Until Thy Wrath Be Past, which features two divers searching for the remains of a wreck, and The Second Deadly Sin, which opens with a hungry bear.
True to what makes many Nordic noir shows such compelling series to (binge) watch, Rebecka Martinsson is dark and moody, with intricate but not overly-complicated storylines, a slow, intentional pace that maintains the undercurrents of tension and anticipation, and a bleak yet beautiful setting that solidifies the sense of place and local flavor.
Featuring Jonas Inde (The Fat and the Angry), Lars Lind (Arne Dahl), and Samuel Fröler (Missing), Rebecka Martinsson is now streaming in the US, exclusively on Acorn TV and the Acorn TV channel on Amazon.
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