Detective Anna (Anna-detektiv) is a Russian series now on Amazon Video. It features a 19 year old detective with the ability to communicate with the dead.
The series is organized so that each crime takes two episodes. With 16 episodes, there are 8 crimes. Each episode is about 45 minutes, so the series is rather like seeing 8 movies with the same main characters. (There are more episodes than this, but not all the episodes can be found. Be sure to see the comment section for more information on episodes.)
Anna (Aleksandra Nikiforova) is a well-to-do young woman in the Russian town of Zatonsk. The time is 1888. Anna is a free spirited young woman who rides a bicycle – something daring and unheard of at that time.
Into Anna’s small town comes a new detective from the big city, Iakov Shtolman (Dmitriy Frid). He joins the police department and begins training the inexperienced officers there.
Since childhood, Anna has had “visions.” She’s learned to keep them secret, but as she reaches maturity she realizes that the things she sees are actually visits from the spirits of the dead. Those spirits are telling her things about crimes committed against them.
Anna tries to help Detective Shtolman with clues, but without telling him how she knows what she knows. Eventually the two of them begin to work together as a crime solving duo.
I found Aleksandra Nikiforova as Anna quite charming and Dmitriy Frid as the policeman believable. But some of the secondary character actors struck me as stilted and not very good actors. It could be a cultural difference, however. Or a lack of experience watching Russian-made television.
All in all the series was an interesting look into a different time and place which I enjoyed. These stories about Anna take place as the same time as stories by Tolstoy and Chekhov, so readers familiar with the social customs of that time from those writers may be intrigued by this look into the past.
It’s in Russian with English subtitles. The setting is beautiful.
I’m delighted that Amazon (and Netflix) are bringing such foreign language content to American audiences.