Spiral: Season 6 Recap


Season 6 Now Streaming!

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Editor’s note: We gave writer Allison Lowe Huff the enviable task of binge watching all seasons of ‘Spiral’ to help introduce new viewers to this brilliant, gritty series. Viewers familiar with ‘Spiral’ may learn a thing or two from this series of recaps as well. We recommend watching ‘Spiral’ Season 6 first before digging into Allison’s unique take on ‘Spiral’.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead! 

Spiral Season Recaps

Season 6 Recap

If you just finished the long-awaited Season 6 of Spiral, you’ve likely been experiencing, as I have, the full range of human emotions, from the highest highs (Romy!) to the most mon Dieu lows (everything else). Look, just say it, you’re in a spiral! Who could blame you after watching the gang endure tsunami waves of stress and pain as they try to solve the murder, and horrific dismemberment, of a fellow policeman? In the middle of all that, they uncover a double-whammy human trafficking case – forced prostitution and baby selling, yikes — implicating still more of their own colleagues who tried to blame the whole thing on immigrants? So…

The case.
It doesn’t help that these extremely rough plot points are all wrapped up in the sometimes violent Parisian class struggle, and that good old Herville (who knew how much we’d come to love him when he appeared a few seasons ago?) is in the hot seat in his new impoverished, racist province. At least his old team is there to help when his own goes under investigation. Laure’s crew, including her new boss, the nervous hives-prone pretty boy, Beckriche, literally grapple the case to the ground and emerge victorious, but it’s the other stuff that I’m still not over, like…

(L to R) Thierry Godard (Gilou), Fred Bianconi (Tintin)

The one that gets away.
When everything else crumbled around them – either because or in spite of their own actions – Laure could always depend on Tintin. When he, himself, was falling apart with PTSD and a failed marriage, did the squad come through for him? Not really. Even then, he had their backs, but Gilou’s dumb theft of the gold bars and even dumber attempts to cover it up, along with the realization that his son is drifting to the dark side without him, finally break this stalwart conscience of the unit. “Don’t bother asking yourself what you’ve become with Gilou and when you crossed the line,” he levels at Laure on his way out, “because you did that so long ago you’ve lost sight of where it is.” I mean, it’s hard not to root for Laure every step of the way, even when her steps are often so very misplaced, but… he’s right? The truth hurts. To lose this necessary stabilizing factor in the work family could have tragic consequences down the line, ones Laure and Gilou can’t see through their own selfishness. Tintin’s exit represents one voice of reason gone mute, but what about…

Audrey Fleurot (Joséphine Karlsson)

The vigilante.
Remember last season when we thought Joséphine had been through just about the limit of what one person could endure? All of her previous trauma seems like a beignet-walk compared to what’s going on now. After losing Pierre, she’s pulled herself together enough to take an offer from the overbearing Edelman to join his high-powered firm. It’s soulless, but then so is she right now. Manipulated by her smarmy boss, Vern, into betraying Edelman, she then faces the ultimate betrayal herself when Vern drugs and rapes her. Even Laure, the ultimate reactionary, urges her to pursue justice through the system, but… Vern made the fatal error of assaulting someone with nothing else to lose, and Joséphine takes matters into her own hands. I must say that while I am generally against violence, there is surely no sweeter revenge than running over a sexual predator with his own sports car. Good grief, how I cheered. The problem is, she didn’t quite finish the job, and after teeth-cracking suspense, is arrested for attempted murder. Now imprisoned, she must depend on none other than her old foe, Edelman, to save her, and I hope he does. Meanwhile…

The great mind.
Let me put it straight out there: they can’t take le juge away from Laure. Or me! His doctor’s prognosis, even with the surgery Roban finally agrees to have, isn’t exactly great. Brain cancer is one of the most evil diagnoses out there, and we can only hope between now and Season 7 a miracle of modern medicine occurs to give Roban a better chance. Is there anything more sad than the image of a vulnerable Roban, his birdlegs stretching from beneath his hospital gown? Yes. And it’s…

The sweet child.
Having survived her early birth and medical fragility, sweet Romy (named after Laure’s mother) eventually thrives. But, what now? Her dad, Brémont, and his new partner and other two daughters seem more than willing to make her the center of their lives. Laure, overwhelmed with, well, everything, can’t stabilize her own emotions long enough to believe she is capable of motherhood. Girl, welcome to the club. It’s Gilou and his burning love (swoon!) that makes her believe, for a moment, in the possibility of a happy future. Should these two be anyone’s parents? I don’t know, and maybe Laure isn’t so sure, either, but the image of Gilou waiting in the hospital parking lot, hugging that huge stuffed panda in joyful anticipation as Laure literally runs for the hills is going to haunt me  with crushing sadness until next season.

Thierry Godard (Gilou) and friend.

Season 7 is currently in production in France but we have no U.S. release date yet to share. Stay tuned for updates!


 * Due to distribution limitations, this program is only available to stream within the U.S. only.


 MHz Choice is available in the U.S. & Canada. Free 30-day trial then $7.99/mo. Subscribe at mhzchoice.com.


About the author:
Allison Lowe Huff is a freelance writer and editor with an overly concentrated interest in mystery stories from anywhere and everywhere. Follow her on Twitter @lowehuff.


Johan Falk Season 2: Burning Questions


Season 3 premieres August 21st!

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Editor’s note: As we gear up for the US premiere of ‘Johan Falk Season 2′, we gave writer Allison Lowe Huff the enviable task of binge watching every Johan Falk movie ever, starting with the original ‘Johan Falk Trilogy’ and moving onto Season 1. Ready for something new? Read Allison’s inimitable, spoiler-free preview of ‘Johan Falk Season 2’, premiering July 17th only on MHz Choice!

Johan Falk Season 2 Preview

As Season 2 of Johan Falk begins, we wonder: is Falk still a hotheaded lone wolf? Of course he is. Would we want him any other way? This is most evident when his family is threatened by forces both natural (a tree) and criminal (mobsters), but his no-holds-barred risk-taking on the job is where his single-minded pursuit of justice really shines. Except for developing, as time has gone by, into even more of a silver fox, our titular hero remains steadfastly the same. Still, that doesn’t mean we don’t have several burning questions about the season to come. Like:

Will we see old friends again?
It’s been two years since Frank Wagner got off Falk’s payroll, and with Seth and Felix Rydell in jail, it seems things have been going well enough. His bar is successful; his love for Marie, though their relationship is strained, runs as deep as ever; and his son is safely growing up. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, and quickly. Before he knows it, Frank’s back in the mix, his hard-earned peace jeopardized. Things are no less complicated with all our faves: Sophie feels disrespected in her leadership role under Patrik, who cannot stop Falk from doing his own thing; Falk’s relationship with his wife still seems a bit sketchy; and, of course, Anja is never all the way out of the picture.

But how is Frank Wagner’s hair?
This is painful to report, but it’s not great. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s a wig, which was quite a blow. Since, in the previous films, Joel Kinnaman’s hair was like another character, I can see why they wanted to recapture the magic, but… it’s been a while. If Frank had to get his hair cut for some reason, I think the audience could have accepted the change without burdening Kinnaman with this straw monstrosity. “This seems kind of niche,” you’re saying. “Is his hair really that important?” It is.

Despite everything, do we still love Seth Rydell?
Kind of! I know he’s a gangster and has done some truly awful stuff, but the guy is a killer with a heart of gold. No matter what he does, I can’t completely give up on him. After all, until things turn a bit sour, just when it seems Frank is about to escape the game, Seth’s been nothing but good to Frank, treating him like a trusted brother. He even took him to the hospital to see his dying mom, for Lord’s sake! I know, I know – he’s a really bad guy, but Jens Hultén is so compelling, so crafty at switching back and forth between genuinely menacing and hilariously exasperated, I cannot help but secretly root for him on some level.

Frank Wagner (Joel Kinnaman)

But do we still have to deal with Felix?
Uggh, yessss. The young upstart remains a constant threat to Frank’s safety either via his general incompetence or dawning recognition of Frank’s true loyalties, and I love to hate and hate to love him. His zeal to be a big man endangers everyone, including his brother and himself.

Are there any new players of note?
Just when you thought you had a handle on the factions crowding Gothenburg’s underworld, we’re introduced to a whole new set of baddies. Ex-military groups, Pakistani drug lords, white supremacist cells, the African mob, and, representing tomorrow’s generation today, a gang of kids. While your children are off at summer camp learning archery and horseback riding, the youth of Sweden are getting their money-laundering skills up to scratch. Falk and his crew get in the middle of all of it, and there’s no shortage of cross-play going on between GSI and other police units, ramping up the chaos to that fever pitch we’ve come to love. Don’t miss it!

Jakob Eklund as Johan Falk

 MHz Choice is available in the U.S. & Canada. Free 30-day trial then $7.99/mo. Subscribe at mhzchoice.com.


About the author:
Allison Lowe Huff is a freelance writer and editor with an overly concentrated interest in mystery stories from anywhere and everywhere. Follow her on Twitter @lowehuff.


Johan Falk Season 1 Recap


Season 3 premieres August 21st!

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Editor’s note: As we gear up for the US premiere of ‘Johan Falk Season 2′, we gave writer Allison Lowe Huff the enviable task of binge watching every Johan Falk movie ever, starting with the original ‘Johan Falk Trilogy’ and moving onto Season 1 below. Viewers familiar with Falk may learn a thing or two from these recaps, and new viewers (you’re in for a treat!) should watch both the trilogy and Season 1 first before digging into Allison’s unique take on this insanely entertaining and supremely suspenseful Swedish series!

Johan Falk Season 1

Five years after his dramatic re-entry into the workforce, Johan Falk is changing jobs, again! His new position takes him back to Gothenburg where he now serves as the Europol/Interpol liaison with the GSI, the special ops unit of the G-burg police. It’s a perfect fit – the years have not dimmed his tendencies to ask forgiveness rather than permission, and the team seems supportive of his regulation-skirting habits. It’s a good thing, because their first few cases together require quite a bit of rule-bending as they face off against local gangsters with a diverse crime portfolio. When his old friend and colleague, Tommy, is lost in a showdown, Falk must take on the job of handler for their guy on the inside, codenamed “Lisa.” Here’s the thing, “Lisa,” is not just some small-time snitch. He’s Frank Wagner, a brave, sensitive guy played with nuanced subtlety by the superb Joel Kinnaman. Frank is one of my favorite characters in any cop show in years and he very nearly steals this one. Johan’s team includes his hardass with a heart of gold boss, Patrik, the unflappable Sophie, and assorted others – Lasse, blue-eyed Dick and Matte – rounding out the team, sometimes providing welcome comic relief, sometimes even knocking Falk down a peg, which he sorely needs.

Frank Wagner (Joel Kinnaman) with the Rydell gang

Third wave, still rolling
The rivers of organized crime activities still flow into Gothenburg from many sides. Often with the help of Frank Wagner, Falk’s crew proceeds to take down major criminals from multiple countries, engaged in a seemingly endless variety of wars against rivals and every branch of the police, who then trip over each other while pursuing leads. (The number of times Falk or a member of his team is nearly arrested by the regular cops… you work in the same building, guys, come on.) Yes, gangsters love to multi-task, and they seem ready to fight over anything, including high-grade weapons, drugs, prostitutes, and… financial control of restaurant coatrooms? That last one seems like a really Europe-specific type of corruption, but it’s as deadly a battle as any other faced by the GSI. The international nature of everything makes each of these stories truly interesting, and, even more, entertaining – did you know, for example, that when a Swede wants to insult someone from Norway he calls him a “fjord boy?” I laughed for a long time. Anyway, what none of these criminals ever expected was the relentless pursuit, to the exclusion of all else (including his family), of Johan Falk! Frank must live on the edge of a knife time and again to help him get his man. Indeed, Falk’s unremitting nature leads to inescapable consequences time and again, like…

Henrik Norlén as Lasse Karlsson and Jakob Eklund as Johan Falk

Family ties
After finally moving past his grief for his lost girlfriend and baby in the Johan Falk Trilogy, Falk makes a home and family with Nina, Helén and their young son, Ola. This stability having been so hard won – I mean, he had to save Helén and Nina’s lives several times — you’d think he’d do whatever it took to keep it together, but… well. Let’s just say that even as the bodies stack up on all sides, my greatest disappointment with Season 1 was Falk’s infidelity. Like, you can face down everyone from Russian mobsters to Estonian drug smugglers, but you can’t wait for your partner’s plane to land before falling into bed with Anja? Family life is also complicated for Frank, as his undercover status requires him to have the public face of a gangster. His own mother dies thinking he’s a criminal, and his wife is beaten into a miscarriage when she wanders into one of his jobs. Falk is sympathetic to these tragedies, and feels similarly bad that, you know, he keeps getting Frank into situations where he is stabbed, shot at and nearly blown up. However, Falk is still so all about results he won’t give any guarantees that Frank will ever be allowed to get off the job. Still, Falk is not completely devoid of tenderness.

Peter Andersson returns as Leo Gaut

Old acquaintances
It’s not just Anja with whom Falk has an ill-fated reunion. Trying to stop the coatroom criminals, he encounters his old nemesis Leo Gaut. Ah, but Gaut is on the up-and-up now, supposedly, just a simple restauranteur trying to make a living. Weirdly enough, this appears to be true, but when his family is threatened by the gang trying to shake him down, Gaut’s old self emerges. This time, however, he and Falk are on the same side. It doesn’t do Gaut much good, though he does achieve a sort of freedom, finally. The same can’t be said for Frank Wagner. Trapped between his public and private jobs, and forced to once again let down the woman he so dearly loves, he’s stuck in a position where he can’t stay and can’t go, while Falk, to escape his guilt, wants to leave Gothenburg for a while and see the world with his family. I can only hope that for Frank, at least, Johan Falk Season 2 sees the scales of justice in better balance.


 MHz Choice is available in the U.S. & Canada. Free 30-day trial then $7.99/mo. Subscribe at mhzchoice.com.


About the author:
Allison Lowe Huff is a freelance writer and editor with an overly concentrated interest in mystery stories from anywhere and everywhere. Follow her on Twitter @lowehuff.


Johan Falk Trilogy Recap


Season 3 premieres August 21st!

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Editor’s note: As we gear up for the US premiere of ‘Johan Falk Season 2′, we gave writer Allison Lowe Huff the enviable task of binge watching every Johan Falk movie ever, starting with the three original films that make up the aptly-titled ‘Johan Falk Trilogy’. Viewers familiar with Falk may learn a thing or two from these recaps, and new viewers (you’re in for a treat!) should watch the original ‘Johan Falk Trilogy’ first before digging into Allison’s unique take on this insanely entertaining and supremely suspenseful Swedish series!

At a Glance: The Johan Falk Trilogy

I don’t know why Johan Falk, beloved Swedish policeman in the long-running series of the same name, must always just happen onto his biggest cases – he’s already a cop! – but that’s how they seem to come to him. He can’t even step out of his apartment without getting involved in a major crime and putting himself, his loved ones and, one time, even Santa Claus, in mortal danger with his unblinking quest for justice. This is Falk in a nutshell, and while it may be enough information for the casual viewer to dip in at any point of the series and be up to speed, real crime show lovers will want to start with the three original films that make up the Johan Falk Trilogy in order to pick up the subtle but essential background of this baby-faced supercop. For example:

Zero Tolerance
When Johan arrives in Gothenburg to join the local police squad (it’s so cool to watch a Swedish show set here), his reputation as a lone wolf has preceded him. Formerly of the National Swedish Task Force, he seems ready to be part of a team, even enjoying the occasional dip-in-pot and dip-in-bed with his colleague, Anja. It’s after one of these encounters, however, that a late-night Christmas Eve Burger King run turns deadly when Johan witnesses a robbery in progress and ends up killing one perpetrator and becoming the mortal enemy of another, one Leo Gaut.

Johan Falk Trilogy - "Zero Tolerance"

It’s Falk’s first taste of the first wave of the organized crime that, as his wonderful boss Sellberg later explains, has been oozing across Europe, and though his new target is a small-timer, Gaut is more than capable of getting Falk into hot water. With the help of a little mole on the inside, Gaut gets the deets on the witnesses who saw him shoot up a street and goes straight from the police station to their homes to threaten them! It’s quick and effective work and leaves Falk in a bind when each witness, including the lovely Helén with whom Falk has an immediate spark, recants their testimonies. His furious follow-up to Gaut allows the villain to accuse Falk of threatening his life. Of course it’s a lie but Falk, whose smirky demeanor belies a real hothead, manages to implicate himself well enough that now he must go on the run from his own team. Ah, but here is where we see his unique set of skills come into play. He maintains pressure on Gaut and repeatedly saves the lives of Helén and her daughter Nina, winning their hearts as he wins his freedom. That’s a wrap on Gaut (or is it?), but have the deeper mysteries of Johan Falk the man been as neatly tied up? Not by a long shot!

Executive Protection
Relegated by the brass to tracking down stolen bicycles after his dramatic debut with his new team, Falk seems to at least be settling down to a regular life in Gothenburg with Helén and Nina. How any of them could function as normal human beings after surviving several murder attempts by professional hitmen, including being terrorized in their own homes, I don’t know. The Swedes are strong people.

Johan Falk Trilogy - "Executive Protection"

While attending the funeral of a family friend in his hometown, Johan realizes an old pal has had his business taken over by mobsters in the guise of a security service. Naturally, this cannot stand. Since the place is so remote that they don’t have a regular police force, Johan steps in and quickly finds himself over his head in an ugly showdown with German criminals who will stop at nothing to get what they want (neck bombs are involved). Calling in another security service to back him up, Johan must face his worst fears. No, not the cutting-edge German weapons – it’s his own feelings he has to stare down when his friend’s wife, the sister of Johan’s first love who died at nine-months pregnant in a hit-and-run accident, confronts him for never acknowledging his grief. Honestly, he still doesn’t really acknowledge it, but he does save everyone’s life – this time with the help of Helén — and their businesses. He does it with integrity, of course, unlike literally everyone else on either side of the equation. It’s rough, but at least Johan leaves with the firm conviction that he won’t be spending his time looking for lost bicycles anymore. So, he’s unemployed now. What could possibly go wrong?

The Third Wave
There’s always a third wave! Falk, in a sort of semi-retirement, is traveling with Helen and Nina for Helén’s work. I can’t think of anything more than Johan Falk hanging around the house all day with nothing to do, and nor can Helén. When they see Falk’s old boss, Sellberg, speaking on TV about his new role as leader of an organized crime task force for Europol, Helén suggests swinging by The Hague on their way back to Sweden to see him. Imagine your life if you could just “swing by The Hague.” Anyway, they do, and Falk has no sooner turned down a new job with Sellberg before – guess who? – a bunch of guys bust in, murder Sellberg, and try to take out Rebecca, an English-Swedish lady who knows too much about the gangsters they protect. Falk saves her and the game is afoot. Has the guy ever just… taken an assignment and worked the case? Not that I’ve seen! Does he realize he stays in business by creating his own crimes?

Johan Falk Trilogy - "The Third Wave"

Anyway, once again Helén and Nina are caught in the crossfire of Falk’s drama, and end up being instrumental to his success. Against the backdrop of violent protests in Munich, Falk must race against time and hitmen of every nationality to save Rebecca and, presumably, the world economy. One of them celebrates a beat too early having shot both Falk and Helén and realizing only when he is shot himself by the still-alive Falk that his own gun contained rubber bullets. It’s a dramatic ending, but there’s one twist left! At Sellberg’s funeral, Falk does accept a job, and heads back to the force! We can only assume he’ll be tripping over bodies in supermarkets and churches and busting up syndicates when he goes out to check the mail in Johan Falk Season 1!


 MHz Choice is available in the U.S. & Canada. Free 30-day trial then $7.99/mo. Subscribe at mhzchoice.com.


About the author:
Allison Lowe Huff is a freelance writer and editor with an overly concentrated interest in mystery stories from anywhere and everywhere. Follow her on Twitter @lowehuff.


Spiral: Season 5 Recap


Season 6 Now Streaming!

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Editor’s note: As we gear up for the Season 6 U.S. premiere of ‘Spiral’*, we gave writer Allison Lowe Huff the enviable task of binge watching all seasons of ‘Spiral’ to help introduce new viewers to this brilliant, gritty series. Viewers familiar with ‘Spiral’ may learn a thing or two from this series of recaps as well. We recommend watching ‘Spiral’ Season 5 first before digging into Allison’s unique take on ‘Spiral’.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead! 

Spiral Season Recaps

Season 5 Recap

Laure and the rest of the team are shakily recovering from the tragic death of Samy and the literal explosion of their unit as Season 5 opens with one of the saddest crimes on record for Spiral, the murder of a woman and her little daughter, bound together and thrown into the Seine. Her very shady husband makes an obvious suspect. He is perhaps too obvious, as both Laure and Roban become obsessed with proving his guilt to a damaging extreme, going up against his defense counselors, Pierre and Joséphine. The case seems like it’s going one way, but – guess what? It spirals, beginning with…

The complicating factor.
Let’s see: Laure’s one true love was killed in an explosion that could also ruin her career; her boss, Herville, is as ambitious and over-promising as ever; her relationship with the stable Brémont is over; her crew is in various stages of personal discord… so, of course, this is the perfect time to find out she’s pregnant! PS, she doesn’t know who the father is, and is convinced that she doesn’t want the baby, anyway. She is, in a word, a mess, sleeping in her car, eating every piece of junk food she can find, flippantly scheduling and re-scheduling a termination. It doesn’t help that Gilou, once her cynical confidant, has taken to his new role as the department’s Dad so completely, all but begging her to keep the baby so that they can raise it, together. I must admit, my heart swelled nearly to bursting at the thought. It wasn’t the last time I’d be overcome by emotion, like when…

Spiral Season 5

The bad goodbye.
So, Roban is still on the job and in Laure’s corner, as always, but his tunnel vision when it comes to the murder investigation and a connected side case lead him to make a few grievous errors in judgment leading to terrible and shocking consequences. Even Marianne, his trusted supporter, finds herself unable to look at le juge after his actions contribute to the desperation of an accused man, ultimately resulting in the death of their beloved friend, Pierre. It nearly destroyed me, too, Marianne. I’m still not over it. Roban finds solace in a new partnership with a young judge, throwing himself into his work, zealously pursuing a baddie diplomat at the cost of his own health. Still, he and Laure are not the only ones making bad choices. There’s also…

The boys.
Surviving an exploding bomb and dealing with the death of a colleague might be enough to make some people take a hard look at their lives and start living better. On the other hand, it might lead you to, say, ignore your responsibilities at home (Tintin) or entangle yourself in the sheets of a violent informant’s needy girlfriend (Gilou, bien sûr). Guys, what are you doing? Gilou really ends up in hot water after putting himself on the line for Herville, placing illegal tracking devices on a gang’s mopeds. (Incidentally, a lot of Parisian crime happens on mopeds, which is really the most French way to commit a crime that I can imagine.) Wonder of wonders, Herville rises to the occasion, taking responsibility for his team’s actions, admitting they’re all far better cops than he is, and finally throwing his support behind Laure one hundred percent. Well, as the Bard taught us, misery acquaints a person with strange bedfellows, and this is nowhere more true than…

(L to R) Fred Bianconi (Tintin), Caroline Proust (Laure)

The sisterhood.
Oh, Maître Karlsson. She’s been through too much. Finally achieving something like true happiness for the first time in her work and in her loving relationship with Pierre, she sees it all snatched away when he is killed. I am NOT over it. Who holds her up, now, in her time of deepest need? None other than Laure, her former sworn enemy. Though their friendship is based on terrible sadness, this strong-woman bond is something I’ve been waiting on for five seasons. I wish Laure had been around when Joséphine decided to accept a job with a big shot firm, because I think she might have talked her out of what seems like it will be an unhealthy, if lucrative, situation. And I hope Joséphine, when the time comes can be there for Laure when…

The unknown.
It turns out, when the chips are very much down, Laure realizes she does want her baby. This enlightenment makes her particularly empathetic when the criminals responsible for the murder she is working on hold a young girl hostage for money. Laure, with motherly compassion for both the teen kidnapper and the child, tries to save them both and ends up nearly losing her own life. The fate of her baby remains in question. As Gilou cries on the phone to Brémont, things don’t look good. How we’ll wait to Season 6 to find out what happens, I really don’t know.

(L to R) Thierry Godard (Gilou), Foed Amara (Djibril Merini)

 * Due to distribution limitations, this program is only available to stream within the U.S. only.


 MHz Choice is available in the U.S. & Canada. Free 30-day trial then $7.99/mo. Subscribe at mhzchoice.com.


About the author:
Allison Lowe Huff is a freelance writer and editor with an overly concentrated interest in mystery stories from anywhere and everywhere. Follow her on Twitter @lowehuff.