Marnow Murders, a brand new crime thriller out of Germany, has arrived in the US. It’s one of the best shows I’ve watched all year.
If Marnow Murders (Die Toten von Marnow) were to have a tagline, “Expect the unexpected” would be appropriate. It’s like the only straight lines in the story are movements from point A to point B, and even those can take a sharp turn like the zigzags throughout the narrative.
The series follows detectives Lona Mendt (Petra Schmidt-Schaller, Inspector Falke) and Frank Elling (Sascha Alexander Gersak, The Typist) of the Schwerin Criminal Police. Lona is a single, very fit, motorcycle-riding cop who lives in a camper and does her best Montalbano impression by swimming in the sea every day when she’s near one. Frank has a journalist wife, teenage daughter, and dementia-stricken mother, plus love handles and a house in the suburbs with a pool he can’t swim in just yet. They might be opposites in many respects, but they have at least one thing in common: pain. As cops, they are a terrific team.
Elling and Mendt have been working together for a year and half, and their latest case concerns a murdered man found hanging in the bathroom of his apartment. Except we already know that the person who killed him left him bleeding in his armchair. So what gives? Very soon thereafter, another man is murdered. The victims are of different ages and financial status but killed in the same fashion. Hmm. What else could connect the two men?
The investigation turns up a lead that takes the detectives to a woodsy campsite by a lake in Marnow. Here Lona parks her camper and puts down temporary roots (and swims) as she and junior detective Jasper (Anton Rubtsov, Dark) make inquiries for the homicide case, amongst other things. Meanwhile, Frank is offered a bribe to kill the investigation.
The question of whether the deaths are the work of a serial killer gets answered when another man is found dead, killed like the other two. As Mendt and Elling keep digging, they discover unsettling details and realize certain sins of the past have not been left there — and more victims are in the offing if they don’t find and stop the perpetrator soon.
The closer they get, the higher the stakes become and the more dangerous things become for everyone involved — and even for those who aren’t — all while Frank grapples with serious problems in his marriage and Lona keeps suppressing the pain that won’t allow her to stay still for too long.
Holger Karsten Schmidt (Detective Ellen Lucas, Gladbeck) deserves props for writing such a tight, intricate, compelling story in Marnow Murders. The crime part is very well-crafted; the layers and directions of the narrative make for a complex case, yet it doesn’t feel convoluted or overloaded. All of it just flows. The personal sides of the story are interesting, too — providing fuller backstories for Lona and Frank, and allowing us to relate to them as regular folk and to get exactly where they’re coming from when they take certain of their actions.
Doing a fabulous job in front of the camera are Petra Schmidt-Schaller and Sascha Alexander Gersak, who won the Best Actress and Best Actor Awards for their performances as Mendt and Elling at the 2021 German Television Awards. The show itself was a nominee in the Best Miniseries category.
Directed by Andreas Herzog (Charlotte Link, Tatort), the eight-episode mystery-crime thriller costars Anne Schäfer (Cologne P.D.), Christine Schorn (Crime Scene Cleaner), Peter Kremer (Murder by the Lake), Bianca Nawrath (Six Minutes to Midnight), Lutz Blochberger (Babylon Berlin), and Judith Enge (Generation War).
Marnow Murders premiered in the US and Canada yesterday, November 9, with its first two episodes. The remaining six episodes will debut in pairs every Tuesday through November 30, exclusively on MHz Choice and its digital channels, including MHz Choice on Amazon Channels.
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