Sunday, 28 September 2014

Swedish Agatha Christie?

In promoting the current Saturday night Nordic whodunit series, BBC TV missed a trick. They could have celebrated the fact that Maria Lang, the author of the mystery novels on which the "Crimes of Passion" series is based, was born 100 years ago last March.

There is a strong similarity between the mini-series produced in Sweden by Pampas and both BBC's Miss Marple and ITV's Poirot Agatha Christie adaptations. Whether this was deliberate or naturally arose from similarities in the source material only a Swedish reader can say; I suspect that it's a bit of both.

I was also fascinated by the cars used in the series. The first six episodes are set in the period before Höger Dag (3rd September 1967 when Sweden switched to driving on the right). Transport for the heroine is a Ford 100E, probably in its Taunus (Ford of Cologne) incarnation. The dashing police inspector drives an Opel. In the first episode, a left-hand drive* Austin A70 Hereford (or possibly a Somerset) appears, but purely as street decoration. Where were Sweden's own Saabs and Volvos? Given the famous longevity of the former, I found the scarcity surprising. However, given the rural settings of the episodes so far, the paucity of cars generally is less surprising.

Those brilliantly-photographed settings - and the implicit latent triangle of heroine, husband and police inspector - are what make "Crimes of Passion" different and I could stand a further series in due time.

* Even before Dagen H, cars on Swedish roads were left-hand drive.

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