Sunday, 7 September 2014

Crimes of Passion - BBC Four - TV review

BBC Four's new sub-titled Scandinavian crime series, Crimes of Passion, started last week, and the second episode, King Lily of the Valley, was screened tonight. I missed the first episode, but heard positive thingss about it from a friend who is a keen Christie fan - and in fact, the stories are based on books by Maria Lang, who was often described as "Sweden's Agatha Christie". Coincidentally, I bought a Maria Lang book a few months ago from another friend who recommended her work, though I have yet to read it. So I decided to give the show a go.

The one actor I recognised was the lead detective, Christer, who is played by the charismatic Ola Rapace, who has appeared in both Wallander and Skyfall. The jaunty music which accompanies the credits and the brightly lit camera work make it clear from the outset that this is not yet another sub-Wallander show. Instead of Nordic Noir, we have Scandi Sun. I've read a few rather sniffy reviews of the first episode, but it may be that these reflect the general tastes of the reviewers rather than a truly objective assessment of the merits of Crimes of Passion, at least if episode two is anything to go by.

The story began with that classic situation - all the guests arrive at church for a wedding, but the bride is nowhere to be seen. The luckless bridegroom has to announce that he's been dumped - but where is the bride? The answer turns out to be that her corpse is lying near a local lake - but she was killed after the wedding was due to take place, rather than before. So what has been going on? And why does her best friend say that she last saw the bride-to-be entering a florist's shop, when the florist denies that the woman ever came into the shop?

It's a whodunit in the traditional style, and so it won't appeal to people who don't care for traditional whodunits. The next question is whether it is good enough to provide good entertainment for viewers like me, who do like whodunits. And on the evidence of this episode, I'd say the answer is yes. I enjoyed it, and the fact that it wasn't as gloomy as the steretypical modern Scandinavian TV crime drama is supposed to be struck me as no bad thing. I am a Wallander (and Sjowall and Wahloo) fan, but there's room for Crimes of Passion on the screen too. I must get round to reading that Maria Lang novel....

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