Ever heard of Arne Dahl?
One true answer is that the name Arne Dahl is the pen name for Swedish novelist Jan Arnald. Another answer is that 5 of his novels have been made into a tv series named… Arne Dahl.
That’s right. Scandinavia continues to turn out top-notch thrillers and mysteries. If you liked the films made from the Millenium Trilogy beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or TV Series like The Bridge, The Killing, Dicte, or the series called Annika Bengtzon, then Arne Dahl is a series that you should see.
The first five novels penned by Arne Dahl have been made into this TV series. Each of the five stories has two ninety minute episodes. That means the first season is five 3 hour mysteries.
This Swedish crime thriller series is about an elite team of detectives, hand-picked for their varied skills. They will be working under the command of Jenny Hultin, a senior detective. Of course these detectives will all come from different parts of Sweden, they’ll have different skill sets, different ages, and temperaments.
They’ll function as a major crime unit handling the highest profile, the biggest, as well as the most important cases that have impact both within Sweden as well as internationally. Besides Stockholm and other key places in Sweden., these detectives will find themselves in places like Italy, Holland, Germany, Tallinn which is the capital of Estonia, New York, Kentucky, and other Scandinavian locations.
Hultin has the command and that means she’s the one that will have to go toe to toe with the ‘suits ‘ upstairs who want results and quickly, as well as the bean counters who have to worry about budgets and the cost of solving the cases.
Jenny has been around the block more than few times, and she’s more than used to the interference, and the hassles that will come her way from above. That’s in addition to overseeing the team that she is responsible for. The team members are all new to each other, as well as new to Stockholm, at least new to the HQ, and there’s bound to be spats, learning curves, trust issues, and disagreements. Irene Lindh has the role of Jenny Hultin.
Next is Aarto Soderstedt. He’s the best theoretician of the lot. He’s bookish, somebody who may been called a nerd or a geek when he was a younger man. But the truth is that what he lacks in field experience he more than makes up for intellectually.
He’s kind of quirky, and a bit standoff-ish. He’ll never be known as Mr. Warmth. Aarto is married and has a bunch of kids. . He finds it easier to remember them and refer to them by their birth sequence with oldest being Number One and the youngest number, Five or is it Six. In a funny moment, as he and the Missus and the kids are off to begin a vacation, his wife suddenly cries out, Stop the car, you left number Four in the driveway. Niklas Akerfelt has the role.
Paul Hjelm was under charges of an unauthorized shooting when Hultin asked him to join the team. He’s bearded and fearless – a tough guy who rather jump into action rather than think about it too long. He’s not particularly stylish and prefers army surplus jackets rather than anything with a designer label.
Shanti Roney has the role of Hjelm who won’t be bothered by having to stay out all night on a stake out, or working with a female. In fact Hjelm’s marriage may be on the rocks, a not unexpected result of his being quick on the draw.
Of course there must be a strong and attractive female detective on the team. Her name is Kerstin Holm. She doesn’t look like the typical Swedish blonde that you may have been expecting, does she? She’s forceful when necessary, dynamic at times, and is able to coax information out of recalcitrant suspects. This is a woman with great skills in the field, and she knows her strengths and limitations as well as anyone on the team.
This is more important than you may have thought. Police work is more than just chases and gun battles – sometimes it is real cat and mouse. Despite not being the stereotypical Swedish blonde, Malin Arvidsson is terrific as Detective Holm.
The oldest detective, aside from the boss Hultin is Viggo Norlander. He looks a bit overweight and a bit slower than his fellow officers. But he has experience in all phases – working in the field, grilling a suspect, and even tailing a suspect. Or so he thinks. His footwork catches up to him in Tallinn, Estonia.
Claes Ljundmark has the role. As he’s really a good cop, I think you’ll enjoy his shortcomings. He’s not very good with the ladies, and I think he needs someone to upgrade his attire.
The big man on the team is Detective Gunnar Nyberg. His background includes work on the Vice Squad, as well as investigating Child Pornographers. He’s brawny and he looks like he could snap someone’s neck like a twig.
As played by Magnus Samelsson, Nyborg is an intriguing character. He likes a cold beer now and then, and maybe even he likes them too much. He’s also a quiet guy, but his reality is that if you want someone to have your back, he’s an excellent choice.
The last full time member of the squad is Jorge Chavez. Though he looks a bit out-of-place with his dark looks and Hispanic name, Chavez is all Swedish – born and raised and lived his whole life in Sweden. His specialties are the internet research so necessary to today’s police. Aside from that, Chavez is a bit of a ladies man and a jazz enthusiast.
It was his specific knowledge of a rare piece (Misterioso) by Thelonious Monk, an American jazz pianist and composer, who died in 1982, that helped solve a case. Chavez is portrayed by Mateus Varela.
Before I give you more detail, have a quick look at a trailer:
And now – the cases.
Episodes 1 & 2: Misterioso or The Blinded Man
Sweden’s elite are under attack. Two rich and powerful men (bankers and financiers) have been murdered, and in the face of mounting panic – and media hysteria – a task force has been created to catch the killer.
The big question on the front page of every Swedish newspaper is: High-flying financiers are being murdered and it is beginning to appear like the work of a serial killer. Why?
Episodes 3 & 4: Bad Blood or Ont Blood in Swedish
Bad Blood is a story of unstoppable, war-induced violence spreading across generations. The team learns that an American serial killer is on a plane from New York to Stockholm, but they have no positive ID. In constant communication with the FBI they rush to the airport, but the information comes too late: the man is already on the loose in Stockholm.
The team’s job is to try to locate him before Sweden inadvertently imports a killer whose methods are extremely cruel and bloodthirsty. Note the weapon in the title picture. Working with the FBI, the team finds that the killer is traced back to the Vietnam War and following that Kentucky. After the killer enters Sweden he soon begins his killing spree.
Episodes 5 & 6: To The Top of the Mountain or Upp Till Toppen Av Berget in Swedish
A Swedish family is on a road trip in Holland when their car is blown apart in a violent explosion. The man, woman and young child die instantly. The case goes to the Team. The man who died in the car explosion was a police officer working undercover at a restaurant belonging to celebrity chef David Billinger. Billinger, a darling of the tabloid press, owns three top restaurants and is wanted by the police for suspected involvement in drugs trafficking.
This is an episode of luring the real truth out of the apparent truth. It is about not taking facts for granted. It is about the bigger crimes hiding behind the small crimes. It is a saga of detection, of slowly developing an unexpected picture from a negative that seems to be altogether expected. In short there’s more, much more than what you see at first look.
Episodes 7 & 8: Many Waters or De Storsta Vatten in Swedish
An illegal African immigrant is shot and killed by police, Detective Kerstin Holm is assigned the task of interviewing the police officer. He happens to be her ex-boyfriend Dag Lundmark. Rather quickly, Lundmark disappears without a trace during the investigation. Then, a burglar breaks into an apartment where he finds a body with a suicide note next to it. The letter leads to the discovery of two more bodies in a marsh in Varmland.
When the team begins to sift the clues into sharper focus, they discover a connection between the two events which both prove to be linked to espionage in the international pharmaceutical industry.
Episodes 9 & 10: Europa Blues
Celebrated Jewish neuroscientist Leonard Sheinkman is found murdered, strung up from a tree in a Jewish cemetery. A group of women escape from an immigration board hostel, where they are being exploited as prostitutes, and flee the country. A body is found half eaten in the wolverine enclosure of a Stockholm zoo.
What does the strange execution of a man at the Stockholm zoo Skansen have to do with the eight disappearing Eastern European women from a refugee station outside the city? And do these cases really have any connection with the horrifying murder of the old Jewish professor at the Jewish cemetery? And what is their relation to the diary from a vague, nightmare-like place on the border of death in 1945?
While this is going on Soderstedt believes he has inherited 3 million Swedish Kroner, so he and his family head off to look at buying a vacation home in Italy. Of course he will be called to work on this case while on vacation.
This episode closes Season One of Arnie Dahl. A second season is in production and will televised in Sweden later this year. I’d venture to say that we are at least a year away from having Season 2 come out in DVD.
Speaking of the DVD you can find it on both Amazon, eBay, and other video outlets.
As for me, I thought series was great. These stories run 3 hours each, so they are more than just police procedurals. We get a good look at all of the detectives during their down times. We see their families and what their homes are like. Though they may be fictional TV detectives, as well as characters in the novels, they are fully fleshed out. Police are also more than just cops on the job. One of the strengths of this series is that this aspect is not neglected.
The crimes are distinct and often very unusual. The camera work is stellar, and I’ll have to say, I enjoyed the actors in their roles. Some of it might be a tad familiar, you know when the head of section has to fight for manpower, supplies, and equipment – but it wouldn’t be a realistic police show with out that part of it.