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The Sandhamn Murders Season 1 now on MHz Choice!

Enjoy the sun-washed noir of Sweden's Sandhamn Murders.

THE SHOW: The Sandhamn Murders is a Swedish crime series based on the novels of Viveca Sten. (The books have only recently been translated into English and I highly recommend them. The wait was worth it!) Six seasons of Sandhamn have been filmed. I don’t know how the Swedes put up with this, but there are only three episodes per “season.” The bad news is that it’s so good it leaves you wanting more when you’re done, but the GREAT news is that each episode is only an hour long, making it ultra-bingeable. The model of Swedish efficiency, they flatpack an incredible amount of story into the short episodes. It’s trimmed of all fat, leaving room to enjoy the breathtaking scenery (and people).

THE FORMULA: As you know, Sweden invented the police procedural formula and they call it Nordic noir for a reason. They love a depressed cop in a freezing long night of the soul and they do it so, so well. Here, however, is a whole new take on the whole thing. While Sandhamn has all the elements that one needs to feel that Scandi chill — a hero with a past; a naive newcomer to the squad; a terse chief in sensible eyewear — the show breaks out of the mold in one critical way…

[LOCATION] WAS LIKE ANOTHER CHARACTER: And that critical way is as follows: Sandhamn itself is a summer paradise! I had no idea it even existed until I watched this show and now I can’t wait to go – it looks like a geographical Instagram filter. Keep your tropical shores and palm trees, give me the ice cold waters of the Baltic Sea! I’m okay if there’s a dead body or two floating around, I just want to be there. Sandhamn is a small settlement in the central-peripheral part of the Stockholm Archipelago – a bunch of tiny islands you can only get to by boat. There are only about 150 people that live there permanently. I wish I was one of them, though now that I think about it they have kind of a high murder rate, considering the size of the population. Where most Scandinavian crime relies heavily on the brooding landscape, allowing it to color every character and event, this one has a distinctly different mood. Oh, there’s brooding, for sure – this IS Sweden – but I didn’t feel like I needed to order Vitamin D supplements to get through the whole season.

BLANKET STATEMENT: In Season 1, at least, the only creeping sensation manifests as a feeling that something very sad is going on in the private life of our hero, lead detective, Thomas. Indeed, it turns out to be the saddest possible thing, and only the deep friendship (and possibly more?) of the gorgeous Nora might save him. I mean, the show also has your standard mystery thrills – innocents in peril, hidden pasts, controlling husbands you can’t wait to see go down – all the good stuff, but without the violence. I have to admit it was pretty refreshing, which is in line with the look and feel of the show as a whole.

Jakob Cedergren in The Sandhamn Murders

HEY, THERE: Alexandra Rapaport and Jakob Cedergren make a gorgeous pair and, and I found myself rooting very hard for these old acquaintances to become something more. Yes, she’s married, but I couldn’t help it! The world is a dark place and as winter approaches, it’s only getting darker. Swedish summer lovin’ on a freezing beach is what we all deserve right now.

MAKE A NIGHT OF IT: When menu planning, let us consider what is on offer at Sandhamn’s Seglarrestaurangen, which has served classic Swedish cuisine for more than a century and can be seen many times in the background of this show as various criminal elements and members of the police force run or boat past it. From what I can tell, they put a poached egg on everything, so start there, rip open a bag of Swedish Fish to celebrate this beautiful seafaring community, and enjoy!

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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.