The first thing that has to be said is that this week’s helping of the Swedish equivalent of Midsomer Murders has a really stupid and pointless title. No More Murders? Unless there’s a specific link to a fundamental aspect of the story, you might as well call every crime-story by that title since it’s purpose is to ensure that there are no more murders by the particular miscreant.
That aside, the third instalment of the Adventures of Puck and Christer was much of a muchness with its two predecessors, unhurried, unlurid, untroubling. Though we started with a murder in Stockholm, discovered by someone who was not Puck Ekstedt – I’m sorry, Puck Bure, for she and the faithful Brian Cant look-alike, Einer ‘Eje’ Bure, are now lawfully wedded and bound for a three week holiday in Eje’s home town of Skoga – the action is to take place wholly in the sleepy, small-town environment of (you’re bound to guess this) Skoga.
The episode takes its sweet time to get to the dead body. Eje’s brought Puck home for something of a honeymoon, and all the neighbours are nosing round to check out the newcomer. The atmosphere’s idyllic, with the only shadow being cast by the round-headed and glowering Margit Holt, who lives opposite (some Fifties hairstyles were true atrocities). Indeed, the only problem to begin with is Thotmes the Third, Puck’s father’s cat, who, despite being a housecat, takes every open door or window he can find as the chance to have it away on his paws.
So, instead of Puck,this time we have Eje, in pursuit of Thotmes, finding on the lawn the body of a young man, wearing the first quiff in Sweden, not to mention a paperknife between his shoulder-blades.
It’s not the kind of murder that ought to attract the attention of Christer Wijk, head of Stockholm’s murder squad, but here he is anyway, pursuing the murder of the forty-something good-time girl of Stockholm (her neighbour, who discovered the body whilst trying to borrow some coffee, discretely and genteely lets the Police know that the late Britt Anderssen was a complete lush and the next best thing to a whore: good job the neighbour liked her, eh?). Needless to say, there are connections between Britt and Quiff-boy, who bears the splendidly Swedish name of Tommy Holt.
Two things now ensue. The first is that, in true small-town style whenever a murder takes place, everybody that you meet is lying about something, concealing secrets about their life that they don’t want to come out but which, once Puck and Christer have teased eveything out, will all turn out to relate to the late Tommy. The second is that you can’t keep Puck away from Christer’s side, to the slow and genial frustration of Eje, who really wanted just to relax and fuck his wife’s brains out every night for three weeks.
I tell you, if we don’t get a serious argument and possible breach between Eje and Puck (resolved, naturally) over her determination to hang off every murder Christer investigates before this series is over, there will be a seriously unrealistic ignoring of human nature. Though, of course, if we do get this inevitable occurence, it will also be a cliche. Sometimes you can’t win, eh?
Gradually it all comes out. The local glamour girl – platinum blonde, two-piece swimsuits, was shagging Tommy even though he had to be at least twenty years younger than her, has a genuinely beautfiful singing voice – is arrested on suspicion but released when someone tries to throw Tommy’s green blazer – and Thotmes – into the lake. Tommy, who is Colonel Holt’s illegitimate son by the aforementioned Britt (but isn’t Britt’s son as the denouement carefully explains), got thrown out of the family for supposedly shagging his sweet-seventeen half-sister Agneta, though all he was doing was warning her that mother Margit was about to find her shagging her real boyfriend, the handyman (I bet he was! I bet he was! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, Say No More!).
In the end it’s the already familiar scene where Christer’s got the whole thing worked out and is about to arrest someone who is admitting it, and she wades in to spot the real killer, though on this occasion it’s not acute psychlogical perception wot does it, but rather a plateful of handy clues served up by the promiscuous little Agneta. And, as foreshadowed by her unsmiling appearance eighty minutes ago, it’s Margit Holt, who has killed two people and tried to murder a third based on a completely wrong-from-start-to-finish interpretation of what was going on. But these are Crimes of ‘Passion’, right?
Though there are plenty of reasons not to do so, I do still like this series enough to keep watching without totally snarking it. The atmosphere, the sensation of the Fifties – a peculiarly in-between decade, I’m growing to recognise – is perfect without being conspicuous and I love how everything is correctly new and lovingly maintained in keeping with the mores of the time. As with Sandman Mystery Theatre, I’m finding myself seeing the ongoing progression of the triangle between Christer, Puck and the stodgy, load-bearing Eje – who really is getting the shitty end of the stick – as the main point of interest, with the crimes themselves really pegs to keep things going.
As for the Midsomer Murders comparison, it’s unfair to charge that when I’ve never seen more than about ten consecutive minutes of a Midsomer Murders episode in my life, but that’s the feel I get off this, and especially this particular episode. Why I should be willing to watch Crimes of Passion when I’d run a mile from the nearest English equivalent is something I’ve yet to explain to myself.