With only one more episode to go of the AMC crime series, The Killing (the climax episode airs next Sunday night at 10 pm), it is worth noting that this is yet another Nordic Noir import, made possible, in part, by the tremendous American interest in Stieg Larsson’s novels. Not only have publishers been searching for the “next Stieg Larsson” among other Scandinavian writers (see Chapter 6 of The Tattooed Girl for our interviews with important Swedish writers), but producers in every medium have suddenly turned their gaze to all genres and media of crime fiction from the frozen north of Europe for inspiration.
The Killing began life as Forbrydelsen (“The Crime”), a wildly popular Danish TV series, which was then shown by the BBC in the UK with tremendous success even as a subtitled version of the Danish original. AMC then signed up Veena Sud to recreate the plot and characters of Forbrydelsen in an American television version set in Seattle. For the dark days of the snow swept Denmark of the mind, we now have the incessant rain of Seattle. Otherwise, the plots are remarkably similar and yet remarkably different. The Killing feels perfectly native to Seattle and the American context.
The series has received widespread acclaim from critics. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter called it “excellent, absorbing and addictive. When each episode ends, you long for the next — a hallmark of great dramas.” Goodman also praised Mireille Enos‘s performance as the lead character Sarah, saying “It’s not until you watch Enos play Sarah for a while that it sinks in — there hasn’t been a female American character like her probably ever.”
Matt Roush of TV Guide applauded the series, calling the acting “tremendous” and that he “was instantly hooked by the moody atmosphere of this season-long murder mystery set in Seattle.” He went on to say “What really stands out for me, in this age of cookie-cutter procedurals, is how The Killing dramatizes the devastation a violent death has on a family, a community, on the people involved in the investigation. Nothing about this show is routine.”
Creator Veena Sud said in an interview, “One thing we’ll be seeing is that every single one of our characters has our secrets. Under the microscope of a murder investigation, no one’s secret remains safe. One of the big questions we’re thinking about as the series progresses is: How well do you ever really know anybody? You think you know your wife. You think you know your best friend. You think you know your child. But do you really?” We might note that Stieg Larsson’s novels also steadily uncover the secrets of almost every character and the theme of secrets is a major one throughout the Millennium Trilogy.