Marnow Murders Promo shot featuring Sascha A. Gersak as Frank Elling and Petra Schmidt-Schaller as Lona Mendt

Marnow Murders on MHz Choice is a gripping German crime series with an inventive mystery and rich subplots. When several murders occur in small lakeside city Schwerin, local detectives Frank Elling (Sascha A. Gersak) and Lona Mendt (Petra Schmidt-Schaller) race to find the connection between them. Meanwhile, a shadowy group with ties to East Germany is trying to stop the pair from investigating. Some shows just grab you right out of the gate, and Marnow Murders is one of those shows. The actors playing Elling and Mendt won German Television Awards for their roles, and it’s easy to see why. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT watch the trailer, as it gives away too much.

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The Case

Elling, Mendt, and junior detective Jasper (Anton Rubtsov) are called to a gruesome crime scene in the projects. The victim is Alexander Beck, who appears to be a child molester. With some digging, the detectives discover that Beck used to be with the Stasi, the East German secret police. Curious. They also determine that he spent a week each summer at the Marnow Campground. Turns out he had just returned from Marnow when he died. The team heads to the campground to investigate. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the tracks, a wealthy retired pharmaceutical executive gets his throat cut while idling in the expansive yard of a swanky retirement home. While the team tries to piece together how these murders are connected, corrupt Federal Police investigator Bernd Peters (Jörg Schütauff) tries, with various means from bribery to violence, to shut their investigation down. It’s worth mentioning that Schwerin is in the northeast of Germany, and used to be part of East Germany, which is alternately referred to as the DDR and the GDR.

Elling and Mendt

Elling and Mendt have been partners for a while, and they are a good team, with complementary skills. Elling is good natured, middle-aged, handsome but past his prime. He’s married to Susanne (Anne Schäfer), who is a journalist covering the mayoral campaign, spending a lot of evenings out with one of the candidates. They have a lovely teen daughter Mareike (Bianca Nawrath), who is the apple of Elling’s eye. It’s clear that Elling (and possibly Susanne) feels that he married “up”, and that Susanne has grown tired of him. Not to mention that they have money troubles, since the police salary doesn’t seem to cover their bourgeois expenses. At the same time, Elling’s mom (Christine Schorn) is struggling with Alzheimer’s. She and Elling have a lovely relationship, with lots of laughing and dancing, and it’s crushing him to see her slip away.

Mendt is the opposite of Elling. She has literally no ties. She lives in a motorhome, and rides a motorcycle to and from work. She’s a regular swimmer and very fit. Jasper is in love with her, and occasionally sleeps with her, even though he is engaged to someone else. We can’t tell if Mendt has real feelings for Jasper or if she is using him to stave off loneliness.  Mendt is the thinker of the team. She ruminates on the details of the case and usually comes up with solutions. She’s a good and loyal partner, but I don’t like what she’s doing to Jasper.

Our Take on Marnow Murders

Marnow Murders will keep you guessing. I’ve watched 4 episodes and I have no clue how these deaths are connected yet. (Ok, I do, but only because I watched the trailer. Don’t do it!) What makes Marnow Murders unique is its authentic feeling, which comes from unnecessary yet illuminating details such as a young boy in the projects singing “Shallow” from A Star is Born, while another younger boy raps back at him in German. From moments like this, we know that the characters and the location will be fully developed, and not cardboard cutouts in service of a plot. And this plot is chewy. There are a lot of moving pieces as well as emotional sub-plots, which show us that cops are humans, too. I don’t want to say more because of spoilers. I highly recommend this series, and hope you love it as much as I do.

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