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.
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.
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.
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?