Crimes of Passion – Episode 2
King Lily of the Valley
It’s touch and go whether I watch tonight’s episode of the drama series based on Maria Lang’s crime novels set in the beauty of Bergslagen, Sweden. The first episode last week was very Enid Blytonesque, although they are all entirely different stories. Anne-Marie McGarry in one of the many Facebook groups for lovers of all things Scandinavian Crime suggested I blog about it. So you can blame her for this.
It turns out each episode is based on an early novel of Maria (real name Dagmar Lange), written in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Although these were not reported to have been received well in Sweden, BBC4 clearly saw something in them, and decided to screen them for the many in the UK with an insatiable thirst for all things Nordic.
Set mainly in Bergslagen in the 1950s, the films follow Puck Ekstedt (Tuva Novotny), her boyfriend (now fiancé) Einar Bure (Linus Wahlgren), called Eje, and their friend, police Superintendent Christer Wijk (Ola Rapace), as they solve various crimes. I hadn’t realised these were permanent fixtures in each episode, but appears they are.
For those wondering, Ola was married to Noomi Rapace until 2011. She of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame. He also played Patrice in Skyfall.
We begin with a wedding this week, with Christer attending with his mother. Puck and Eje, now engaged are also there, but not before the opening scene where we see a car rocking from side to side, but contrary to what those of you with dirty minds might think, it is moving as Eje is trying to fix a flat tyre.
Lothario Christer is soon admiring a woman and discovers it is Dina, who he knew when he was very young, but hadn’t seen her in a long time. After the church had filled up, groom to be Joakim stands in front of the assembled throng and thanks everyone for turning up, but that it appears his fiancée has decided not to. As the opening credits play, I can’t help but think we are in for more lashings of ginger beer.
Alliteration fans would be delighted to discover that the potential bride, Anneli, had last been seen (according to Dina who turns out to be her best friend) at Fanny Falkmann the Florists. I’ll try not to take the juvenile route with her name. Anneli had gone in but not come out. Fanny says this didn’t happen.
As everything had been paid for and people had travelled, a decision is made to go ahead with the wedding reception. Here we meet Lars Ove-Larsson, looking like a young David Van Day, who is sitting with Dina. He leaves and tells Dina not to come with him. Christer is over in a flash and invites Dina to sit at his table. We then see our three series stalwarts leaving with Dina and then Christer and Dina having sex. It only took him 15 minutes this week! He does seem to always manage to get the best looking woman in each episode into bed. The lovely Marianne Vassbotn Klasson being this week’s conquest.
Puck joins Christer in walking the dog the next morning (yet more Blyton being introduced!!) and they discover Anneli’s body at the side of a lake. She seems to have been stabbed. Her bag is lying nearby and contains, amongst other things, a key ring with Rock Hudson on it. Christer goes and tells Anneli’s mum Gretel and step-dad Egon the bad news. Egon is wearing a fine pair of striped pyjamas.
Christer discovers that the keyring had previously had the keys to her work on, and that she had gone to her boss’s house to give the keys back. After visiting the boss, Sebastian, he finds that this is another person who had claimed not to have seen her. Various witnesses had said that they saw Anneli running away from his house in tears.
Fanny had been lying when she said Anneli hadn’t been in her shop. But this was to disguise her having sex with married man Sebastian.
Puck is doing her usual amateur sleuth stuff. She goes to Lars’ house and goes in. A member of the Famous Five if ever there was one. We see Lars returning and he walks into his house to see her in the living room. Next up, Christer is knocking on the door and Puck answers! Lars is lying unconscious on the floor. Lars admits to driving away with Anneli, but she asked to be dropped off at the woods and for Lars not to come looking for her.
Christer and Puck go to the woods and just as they come across a cabin, they see a man hanging by the neck from a tree. After investigating the cabin, they find it belongs to a Mats Norgaard, and it has pictures of Anneli all over it.
The information is coming thick and fast now, with us finding out that Sebastian was having a meeting with Egon (Anneli’s step dad remember) and also that Mats had been the ex of Anneli, and had written 3 letters to her from his home in Germany.
A word must go to the beautiful location of this week’s episode. They refer to it being Skogo. Gorgeous place. Perhaps more style than substance though.
The autopsy is completed on the dead girl and her mum Gretel comes out with the line of the evening, saying that they should have the funeral as soon as possible, as she has “so many freshly baked buns”. A key ingredient of any funeral as we all know. We also discover that Mats was dead before he was hanged. (Or is it hung?)
Christer goes to speak to Lars again, and this time, the interfering Puck starts going through his car! She finds rope in the glove compartment like the stuff used to hang Mats. Lars runs off and jumps into the car that Dina is in the back of and drives off. As Christer and Puck gives chase we hear the squealing of tyres and as they get round the corner, Lars is out of the car trying to strangle Dina. We have a moment between Christer and Puck where he almost kisses her, but he doesn’t.
I suppose at this point I should mention that throughout the episode, the relationship between Eje and Puck is constantly shown. Things aren’t going great and the marriage looks in doubt. Maybe it’s just me, but I find myself not really caring. Eje seems a bit wet and Puck seems more interested in being an amateur detective.
We see Egon and Gretel’s Maid, Elvira trying to phone Christer about something she has found. At the wake, Elvira is nowhere to be seen, until the ever inquisitive Puck (for inquisitive, I mean annoying) finds her drowned in the washroom.
Christer speaks to the assembled throng at the wake and accuses Egon of the murder. Well he had accused pretty much everyone else by this point. He scoffs at this. Then Puck says that he didn’t love her as a father and suddenly he confesses all! He had hidden the letters to his step daughter, he had been speaking to Sebastian about needing Anneli to marry Joakim for his money, he had stabbed Anneli after trying to grope her and she grabbed the knife and he had killed Mats to make it look like him. He had also planted the rope in Lars car.
Puck tells Eje she doesn’t want to marry him because she doesn’t want to be a housewife because she wants to complete her doctorate and doesn’t want to do housework. But because Eje loves her, he says this is ok and as long as they love each other, everything will be ok. Awwwwww. (boak). This seems to do the trick.
We end as we began, with a car rocking from side to side. But this time it is what the dirty minded think. With Christer and Dina in it, caught after Eje and Puck drive past and catch them. How they laughed.
It’s not really Nordic Noir, it’s Nordic Yellow.
I think it was better than last week.
- Would a key ring with Rock Hudson on it have existed in the 50s?
- You’d think Christer would get increasingly irritated at Puck’s interfering in police work.
- How come Christer is an inspector in Stockholm but gets to investigate cases wherever he is? Are they glad to see the back of him? Has he already offended every woman in Stockholm?
- After Christer had paid her a visit, Fanny said “Inspector” in a very strange way as if this was an insult?
- What’s the story with the Swedes and funerals? Male family wear white ties?
- As a civilian, and with no search warrant, I expect Puck could be done with breaking and entering, trespassing, assault etc.
- I get the feeling a Swedish TV executive watched an episode of Mad Men and wondered what books they could do that could be of the same time.
- If Puck focusses on her doctorate, how will she continue to investigate these crimes she seems obsessed with?
- Every time Christer and Puck go for a walk, they find a dead body.
- Enid Blyton or Agatha Christie? You decide.
- Did they not ban cigarette advertising on TV?
- How does Puck always turn up with a tiny suitcase and yet has about 15 changes of clothes?
- Ironic that Christer appears to lust after every woman he meets, with the exception of Fanny.
- I didn’t manage to avoid the juvenility of my mind and her name all the way through.