The Valhalla Murders
- Brian Donaldson
- 21 November 2020
Solid but unspectacular Icelandic crime drama with standard Scandi noir tropes
After an apparent hiatus on our screens, Scandi drama is back with a bang with Denmark's DNA having just solved its case, and now Iceland's The Valhalla Murders arrives on our screens. This eight-parter begins, as most of them do, with a killing which is swiftly followed by another death that appears to have similarities with the first slaying. The cops can't quite be sure what's happening, and the question remains in the air: just what is the link here? A third corpse might shed some light on a connection, and sure enough, the investigation is off and running on a case which looks as though it may involve acts of brutal vengeance on people who committed terrible acts in the past.
As with the likes of The Bridge and The Killing, there is a host of supplementary characters and subplots which may or may not have resonance with the main storyline, and the chief crime-solvers will most probably have private lives or cupboard skeletons that distract them from the job at hand. All of this is present and correct in The Valhalla Murders, but there's very little here that we haven't seen done much better in any number of entries within the small-screen Scandi canon.
Not every crime drama needs to have its lead detectives either clashing with each other or itching to get a room (or both), but a lack of oomph in the personalities of Kata (smiley, possibly struggling with parental issues) and Arnar (grumpy, possibly troubled by identity issues) might make you yearn for the complicated days of Saga and Henrik, or Saga and Martin, or Sarah Lund and Jan Meyer. The Valhalla Murders is certainly distracting enough, but while it aims to send chills straight down your bones, this Icelandic drama is ultimately a lukewarm bowl of kjotsupa.
BBC Four, starts Saturday 21 November, 9pm.