Episode 1 of The Chestnut Man begins with a man named Marius out on patrol. We’re on the island of Mon in 1987, and he drives up to Orum’s place following reports.
With the cows on the loose, Marius raps on his door but there’s no answer. Entering, Marius finds a bloodbath. Three dead people – none of them Orum – are dotted around the house while a young boy is found in the bloodied bath, very much alive. This is one of Orum’s foster children, it seems.
After calling this in to the police, Marius heads down to thee basement where he finds Astrid, the other foster child, hiding under the table. The only trouble is, Marius is knocked down by an ominous figure behind him. Dotted around the room are numerous chestnut figurines, which the camera keeps its focus on as as the sickening sound of blood spattering can be heard.
We then cut forward to modern day Copenhagen, on the 6th October. The place is abuzz with news as politician Rosa Hartung returns to work after a year’s absence. Her daughter, Kristine, went missing and after the polcie gave up the search, she’s been haunted by this ever since.
Rosa is still in a difficult place though, doubting her own abilities and unsure whether she can still do her job. Her reassuring partner, Steen, reminds her to take things one day at a time, as she’s picked up and taken to the office.
All is well until she receives a tweet with pictures of her daughter from kindergarten. The accompanying message reads “I hope this hurts, you deserve to die.” Now, it seems like these pictures were picked up off her Instagram, which she shut down shortly after Kristine’s disappearance. This means whoever has the pictures has held onto them for a while, waiting for her to return to office.
Meanwhile, Thulin drops off her daughter Le at school, heading into work. She wants to apply for the cyber crime department, but for now she’s got a new case to work on. And in true noir fashion, she’s assigned a brand new partner called Hess. He’s been part of task forces before but this case promises to be very different.
Anyway, Hess and Thulin show up at the crime scene. The victim is a 37 year old called Laura Kjaer. She worked as a dental nurse and it seems like when she went to bed, her basement was opened which is how the killer got in. She was killed that night, with the most likely assumption being that she was sedated and dragged out to the playground.
Her hand has been severed and it seems like when she awoke she struggled to break free from her binds. The only clue at the crime scene is a chestnut man, the same ones we saw back in 1987 at Orum’s farm.
Thulin organizes traffic, eventually sitting down to talk with Hans, Laura’s partner. Now, just before they do there’s an interesting moment where Thulin notices a boy watching the house ominously from the back door. Could they know something about this?
Anyway, Hans has known Laura for about a year and moved in shortly after New Year, so about 10 months ago. The last time he saw her was the prior morning. He phoned home and it seemed like everything was okay.
Now, Hans is pretty shifty, concerned about what Hess is doing as he looks around the house. As he opens up a drawer, Hess finds evidence of Laura getting the locks changed on the doors quite recently, which Hans claims is because he loses his keys.
This simple exchange is enough for Thulin to believe he’s hiding something. So naturally Thulin decides to do a deep dive on him and find out what’s really going on.
The plot soon thickens though when Thulin receives the results of the fingerprint dusting. Remember that chestnut man from before? Well, it actually has traces of Kristine Hartung on there. Given the girl is presumed missing, that seems impossible. In order to get to the bottom of this, Thulin needs to speak to Rosa. It seems like this case could well be connected to the threats Rosa has been receiving too.
When Thulin heads over and speaks to Steen, Rosa’s partner, she learns that Kristine and her friend Matilde used to sell chestnut figurines at school.
Thulin and Hess eventually turn their attention to Magnus, Laura’s son. He points out that the chestnut man wasn’t there the morning before so it seems like it’s in connection with the murder. While Hess believes this is connected to Rosa’s case, Tulin is adamant it’s not. So which is it to be?
The Episode Review
The Chestnut Man kicks off with a really compelling and gripping opening chapter. The opening with the farm is a nice way of jolting us into this case, which looks like it’s going to be a pretty gruesome and difficult one to solve.
The whole chestnut man thing is a nice twist but given I haven’t read the book this is based on, I can’t comment on how well this has been adapted. As a straightforward moody crime drama, The Chestnut Man ticks all the boxes.
The atmosphere is great and the case is absolutely enthralling from the very beginning. I’d imagine things will slow down a little now as we get to know all the different suspects involved, but for now this looks like one to watch!