In Search of a Murder

by Pavia Rosati
A grizzly scene from the original TV series. Photo: Courtesy of DR/Tine Harden

Is it awfully macabre to travel for the murder? For the thrill of tracking down a brutal killer? And to do it in Copenhagen, a city that's always topping the lists of most pleasant places to live on earth? An utopia with universal healthcare, low crime rates, and a liberal-minded citizenry that radiates egalitarian tolerance, good health, and solid moral fiber?

Mind you, I've never actually been to Copenhagen; that's just how I imagine it. The closest I've gotten is Stockholm, Helsinki, and Berlin, none of which count. I have, however, just finished watching the Danish version of The Killing on DVD in London, and I want to get on a plane to see firsthand the settings I've gotten to know so well during my television binge: the gorgeous town hall, the ominous birch woods, the empty police station courtyard. The Copenhagen of the tense, electifying, and generally awesome 20-episode crime drama is all dark, rainy nights, dimly-lit basements, and abandoned warehouses where no one can hear you scream.

Clearly I'm not the only one to have this reaction, because the folks at Visit Denmark have assembled a guide to detective , from Vesterbro to Østerbro. You can tell it's a tourist board site: There's more sunlight on this web page than there is in the whole TV series. In the show, Sarah, the protagonist, is an obsessive and not very nice detective determined to solve the murder at any cost to her career and family. She spends the entire series wearing a chunky fisherman's sweater, launching an unlikely fashion craze that has knitters on the Faroe Islands struggling to keep up.

The show originally aired in 2007 as Forbrydelsen, which more accurately translates as "the crime." The British series ended in March; the US version aired its finale this weekend. I haven't seen the American remake, which swaps Copenhagen for Seattle and renames victim Nanne Birk Larsen as Rosie Larsen, but apparently the Danish version has a more satisfying finale even if it left me scratching my head over all the red herrings and loose ends. Anyway, I've been to Seattle. It's a great town, but I want to go track some treachery in Denmark. 

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