The Valhalla Murders is an Icelandic language mystery thriller on Netflix. It’s an outstanding mystery series, full of suspense and interesting characters.
The Valhalla Murders bears a strong resemblance plot-wise to the 3 series Welsh drama Hinterland, which I reviewed here. The idea is similar but the execution is different. It doesn’t take 3 years of keeping the fine points in mind. You get all 8 episodes in one release with The Valhalla Murders. All 8 of the episodes deal with this one case.
Kata (Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir) is called to investigate a murder. It’s unusual because there were multiple stab wounds and the victims eyes were mutilated.
Kata gets passed over for a promotion that very afternoon. Then she is informed that a cop from Norway, Arnar (Björn Thors), is being called in to assist her with the case.
Soon other bodies with similar styles of murder are found. Iceland goes nuts over the idea of a serial killer, previously unheard of there.
The setting is stunning, with many aerial shots. The world is all snow, striped with black ribbons of roadways. Kata scampers around in all that snow in a thin sweater and a short leather jacket. Brrr!
The development of the police work is flawless. It’s a slow accumulation of facts based on the hard work of Kata, Arnar and their excellent team. There are no red herrings or misdirections. It’s a straightforward crimesolving story. They learn how the murders are related. There was a boys’ school involved. It closed 30 years ago, but the people who worked there are the ones being murdered.
By episode 5, they think they’ve figured it out. But there’s more to it, as they find out. The closer they get to the answer, the more dangerous it is for everyone. The climactic scenes in the final episode are very exciting.
Both of the main characters have complicated private lives.
Kata is divorced with a 16 year old son. Her mother is living with her temporarily. The extra time the murders require comes just at a time when there’s a serious problem at home with her son. She is very stressed and worried about her son while trying to act normal at work. It doesn’t always work.
Arnar is native to Iceland. The police commissioner who brought him back to work on the case, Magnús (Sigurður Skúlason), is a close friend. Arnar’s father is dying. His sister Laufey (Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir) keeps reaching out to him secretly about it. Their father and Laufey’s husband are clergy in a church that Arnar rejects. Laufey’s husband prevents her from seeing Arnar or from letting him attend the funeral when their father dies.
I did have some trouble with scenes that were filmed in dark places – basements, deserted power plants. Often there wasn’t enough light in a scene to see what was happening. But I have no complaints at all about the writing or acting in this series.
Check out the trailer.
If you enjoy a good mystery, I think you’ll like The Valhalla Murders.
20 responses to “Review: The Valhalla Murders”
i started this one several days ago. i’m enjoying it so far. it is indeed direct (not a fan of red herrings) and that is refreshing. well worth the time.
Glad you’re enjoying it.
I thought the writing and acting were top notch and the final episode was great. It’s not often that we see such interesting main characters both flawed yet remarkable. I did notice the plot similarities with Hinterland but this production moved along faster. I’d love to see these two Main stars in yet another investigation.
Seeing these two investigators together again is a great idea. The whole team behind this production was outstanding.
I turned it off when the scene at the dinner table with Kata, her son and ex- went on and on and on boring me to tears, but after reading this review I will soldier on with it. It sounds interesting, and now that I have been given a handle on what’s behind the murders it will be more interesting to watch.
I hope you end up liking it.
I binge-watched the series in two nights. The acting was superb. I agree that the two leads work so well together that there should be a second series. However there seemed to be a few loose ends or possibly red herrings: was the male detective also sent to Valhalla? Did that explain his one sexual episode? Was Kata’s ex covering for or unaware of their son’s involvement at the party? Did the son participate or not?
Will these questions be addressed in a second series? I do hope so.
I can’t answer all your questions, but I think the male detective’s sexuality was the reason his family treated him the way they did and the reason he abandoned the church. I don’t think he’d been a student at Valhalla.
I want to know where I can get Kata’s jacket!
LOL. It was a nice jacket!
Barbour or Belstaff. It’s a black insulated waxed cotton.
Her coat is actually an insulated Barbour or Belstaff waxed cotton coat- not leather. (Found your blog searching for the coat design.)
Ah, good to know. Thanks for visiting.
great show ,, hinterland all over again!! but great .. bring on season 2 !!!
Thanks for commenting and reading.
just wondering, this is marcel again , can anyone locate the EXACT coat that kata is wearing because i have searched the barbour/ belstaff websites and i cannot identify it , maybe you have better luck ?? or even suggest the one that may be closet to it ?? if you can state the name of it so i can look at it as well .. thanks !!
I love your blog! Your writeups about my the favourite Welsh crime thriller Hinterland is the absolutely favourite. I have Valhalla Murders on my list to watch.
Have you watched The Icelandic Noir- Ófærð (Trapped) Series 1 & 2. It is very atmospheric and what I loved about this series is MOOD. The same feeling I got when I had travelled to Iceland.
I hadn’t heard of Trapped. With a male director and a man in the leading roles, it isn’t the kind of thing I would notice. But I see it’s on Prime Video and has excellent ratings. I watched the trailer and see what you mean about mood. Since it has two seasons, I guess they didn’t catch the killer in the first season. Thanks for the tip.
I am currently watching Valhalla, in fact I woke up in the middle of the night to continue. I quite love everything about this show! I do have two complaints (more just gripes). I’m certain I haven’t seen a smile, or it’s just such a broody show it absorbs smiles and your forget them. And does Iceland have time? There is no sense of time. Has it been an hour? Day? How long did it take to get here? How long were you there? Time on the show is a void.
Other than that, I am an addict!!
Yes, interesting observations (er, gripes). Thanks for sharing.