Review: The Chestnut Man, Danish noir mystery

Danica Curcic in The Chestnut Man

The Chestnut Man is an excellent Danish noir suspense and mystery series streaming on Netflix. A great length for binge watching with 6 episodes, the series takes the lead character, a woman police detective, through several crimes in the chase for a serial killer.

The Chestnut Man begins begins when a dead woman, a mother, is found hanging on a playground. One hand was cut off. Nearby is a chestnut man. A chestnut man is a stick figure Danish children make using chestnuts for the body and head and matches for the arms and legs. The detective Naia Thulin (Danica Curcic) doesn’t know if the little figure is important, but she has it collected anyway.

Before the case began, Naia Thulin asked to get out of homicide and move into the IT department where she would have more reasonable hours. She’s a single mom to Le (Liva Forsberg). Naia’s foster father, Aksel (Anders Hove), who Le regards as her grandfather, is the one taking care of Le most of the time while Naia works.

Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Danica Curcic in The Chestnut Man

Naia is assigned to work the case with Mark Hess (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), a visiting detective she doesn’t know. At first he seems like a real slacker, but he proves to be as good a detective as Naia as the case progresses.

While the investigation into the murder on the playground is getting organized Rosa Hartung (Iben Dorner) is returning to work after a year away. Rosa is a government minister whose daughter disappeared a year ago. A man confessed to killing her daughter and is in prison, but the body was never found.

David Dencik and Danica Curcic in The Chestnut Man

Simon Genz (David Dencik), the forensics expert in the police department, informs Naia that the fingerprints on the chestnut man match those of Rosa Hartung’s dead daughter.

With that seemingly impossible bit of news, the mystery and suspense making up the series are underway. More murdered moms are found with body parts cut off and chestnut men bearing the Hartung girl’s fingerprints nearby. The murdered moms were all abusive or neglectful.

The tightly wound mystery that makes up the chase for the killer is full of false leads, suspicious characters, danger, and hope that Rosa Hartung’s daughter is still alive somewhere. I began to suspect various characters who seemed guilty. I also worried that Naia’s daughter, who was neglected by her overworked mom, made Naia a target for the killer.

The series was created and written by Dorte Warnøe Høgh, based on a novel by Søren Sveistrup. There were only men directors and just one woman who worked on only one episode in the writers’ room, but the series did a decent job exploring the personalities and backgrounds of the cop Naia and the government minister Rosa.

The story’s secrets were revealed carefully to maintain the suspense and mystery as the cops struggled to prevent more murders and find the killer. Overall, The Chestnut Man is a very good noir mystery.

Poster for The Chestnut Man

Here’s the trailer.

I was surprised when the killer was finally revealed. Did you figure it out in advance or did it surprise you, too?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

5 thoughts on “Review: The Chestnut Man, Danish noir mystery”

    1. The Danes have some excellent series. Borgen is one of the best political dramas ever. Rita is about a rebellious teacher. And there are many others. Glad you enjoyed The Chestnut Man.

  1. Borgen, Rita, Dicte, all shows you turned me on to that i loved! this one i found on my own and have to admit, i found a bit more of a slog. that said, i enjoyed it. i just watched Danica Curcic in Equinox on Netflix – another series that was short but a bit of a challenging watch – she is a dynamic performer.

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