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Fjallbacka Murders, Seasons 1&2 (MHz/DVD/2013-14)

The first two seasons of this moderately-interesting cop-show is a Swedish/ Finnish production.  It would seem to have been shot in the tiny Swedish township of Fjällbacka, but the majority of the crew and some of the actors have Finnish names.  No matter, the shows are well-produced, even if much of the subtlety is lost to us Americans as the local audiences must have a stronger understanding of their Nordic police procedures than do we.

Based on characters in the successful crime novels of Camilla Läckberg (sometimes labeled “The Swedish Agatha Cristie”), most of the six 90-minute stories in the two seasons are original, using only her characters, crime-novelist Erica Falcks (Claudia Galli Concha) and her policeman husband, Patrik Hedstrom (Richard Ulfsater) and their young children, along with his interfering mother.   


When successful author Erica Falcks lost her parents in a car crash, as a child, she had no knowledge of any male sibling.  So when a man claims Erica and she have the same mother, and that he is her half-brother, s doesn’t believe him orders him away. A few days later he is murdered and she searches through her mother’s belongings in old boxes, discovering dark secrets from the past, secrets that someone is willing to kill to not be discovered, pulling her into the vortex.

THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER/I betraktarens öga

Erica's sister Anna comes to visit her and Patrik at the same time as "Antiques Cubed" is filming at the old castle in Fjällbacka. Anna meets the TV host for the show, Claes Wager, and a harmless flirt marks something between them. A worker Linda Hamrin overdoses on meds, and Erica and Patrik become involved in the case when day later, Hasse Wennerman, is killed and the rumors of an affair that led to Linda's overdose spiral upwards, when an old painting Wennerman brought to the antique show to be sold, is missing. Only to be found among Annas belongings, implicating her in his murder.   

FRIENDS FOR LIFE/Vanner för livet

Erica, wondering if her next book should be based on an incident when she was thirteen, and one of her classmates, Peter, got on a bus and disappeared. As she starts investigating into what happened to Peter it seems as if she has awakened a sleeping beast. But when Erica's only connection to Peter, his brother Ivan, is murdered, Erica takes it upon herself to discover the connections between Peter’s disappearance and Ivan’s death.  It’s when Tina, the odd sister of Peter and Ivan, shows up at a high school reunion, that a new murder offers Erica a clue to solving the disappearance of her childhood friend and the latest murders.

THE SEA GIVES, THE SEA TAKES/Havet ger, havet tar

Fjällbacka's oldest photographer, Stigge, is murdered in his studio.  Beloved by most of the town, Erica begins an investigation into his death, uncovering an unsavory past as a blackmailer, including her mother-in-law, Kristina.  The story flips between today and the 1960s when thwarted love made the idiosyncratic photographer into a blackmailer, including covering up a murder for a young girl he’s in love with.

THE COAST RIDER/Strandridaren

Jessica, a young coast guard diver discovers two dead scuba divers after a storm. She risks censure from on-high when she disagrees with them that their deaths were an accident and asks Patrik to investigate, interrupting a holiday Patrik and Erica were to take.  Another death involves both of them, as Erica joins an historical museum and finds contemporary cover-ups of a nearly 200-year-old sabotage of a cargo ship, deliberately sunk by town councilors for profit.

QUEEN OF LIGHT/Ljusets Drottning

In the early 1930s, we watch a young woman, dressed in her traditional Christmas Santa Lucia white gown drown herself in the icy river.  Flashing forward to today, Erica and Patrik are preparing for a traditional Christmas, which includes a celebration of Santa Lucia in the local church.  But the Lucia actor has disappeared, and the investigation leads to the tragic celebration of 80 years earlier.