European mysteries really do hit differently, don’t they? Netflix’s Danish crime thriller The Chestnut Man (Danish: Kastanjemanden) is a case in point. The show is a gripping slow-burn story that builds with every episode, woven with well-crafted twists and turns. It almost feels like a book, which is probably because the series is an adaptation of a 2018 novel of the same name.
One October morning, a young woman is found dead in a playground in a quiet suburb of Copenhagen. One of her hands is missing and above her, there hangs a small figurine of a man made out of chestnuts. All pretty chilling, but things become even more complicated when the police find mysterious evidence on the chestnut man that points to a girl who went missing a year ago, and that girl just so happens to be the daughter of an important politician.
Danica Curcic and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard star as Naia Thulin and Mark Hess, the detectives assigned to investigate the case. As more bodies and chestnut men pile up, the two cops begin to connect the dots on an expansive mystery. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable show, told across six episodes, and has already attracted a lot of attention on Netflix. If you’ve already watched the series and you’re hungry for more, we’ve got you covered. This handy list has seven of the best shows similar to The Chestnut Man that you can watch for more murders, mysteries, and haunting stories.
If you loved Danica Curcic in The Chestnut Man, you should definitely watch Equinox for more of her work. Created by Tea Lindeburg and based on the Danish podcast Equinox 1985, this six-episode supernatural mystery thriller follows the story of a young woman named Astrid (Curcic).
In 1999, a group of students disappeared. Astrid’s sister was one of them and since then, Astrid has been plagued by terrible nightmares and visions. Twenty-one years after the incident, she sets out to investigate the incident, uncovering unsettling truths about both herself and the world around her.
Created by Søren Sveistrup, who also wrote the novel that The Chestnut Man is based on, The Killing (Danish: Forbrydelsen) is a Danish police procedural series. Three seasons of the show were broadcast in Denmark between 2007 and 2012, each focusing on a different case. It’s a highly acclaimed show with fans spread all over the world. Plus, it’s the project that Sveistrup is best known for.
Sofie Gråbøl stars as Detective Inspector Sarah Lund, a talented investigator who is assigned a number of complicated cases. In the first season, Sarah looks into the murder of a young woman. In the second, she investigates a series of murders targeting people linked to the Danish military. The third season involves both a brutal murder and the abduction of an industrialist’s daughter. The Killing has also been remade by AMC as an American series starring Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman.
The Valhalla Murders
Like The Chestnut Man, The Valhalla Murders is also about a series of killings with a clear pattern. The killer here doesn’t leave creepy figurines behind though. Instead, they stab their victims’ eyes as a calling card.
Created by Thordur Palsson, this eight-episode Icelandic noir series stars Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir and Björn Thors and is loosely based on real-life incidents that took place in the 1940s. The show tells a harrowing tale of abuse, revenge, and violence linking the past and the present.
After a series of brutal murders, two detectives are tasked with finding the deadly serial killer who is responsible. But as they dig deeper, the investigators find that the killings have a connection to Valhalla, a boys’ home with a horrible history. The Valhalla Murders originally aired in Iceland in 2019 and was released globally via Netflix in 2020.
Requiem can be considered both a mystery and an excellent work of horror, depending on how you look at it. This Welsh TV drama was created by Kris Mrksa, directed by Mahalia Belo, and stars Lydia Wilson as Matilda Grey. Besides Wilson, the show also stars Joel Fry, James Frecheville, Sian Reese-Williams, and Brendan Coyle, among others.
Matilda is an award-winning cellist whose life takes an unexpected turn when her mother commits suicide. And when she discovers that her mother had some connection to the disappearance of a little girl in 1994, Matilda embarks on a quest for the truth. In the process, she begins to question her own past and origins and stumbles upon deadly secrets. Basically, it’s the perfect show to watch on a dark and stormy night.
This Finnish TV show is up there on the list of great Scandinavian Noir stories. Created by Miikko Oikkonen, Bordertown (Finnish: Sorjonen) stars Ville Virtanen as Detective Inspector Kari Sorjonen. An interesting character with a complicated life, Sorjonen is on the autism spectrum and displays signs of savant syndrome. After his wife narrowly survives brain cancer, Sorjonen moves his family to a town on the border between Finland and Russia, hoping for a more peaceful life. Yeah, that doesn’t work out.
Bordertown follows Sorjonen’s many cases and takes a procedural format, with multiple stories in each season. Three seasons of the show were broadcast in Finland, starting in 2016 and ending in 2020. Fun fact, apparently Stephen King is a fan of Bordertown.
The Forest (French: La Forêt) is a French crime drama about mysterious incidents that happen in and around a forest in the Ardennes in France. The six-episode show was created by Delinda Jacobs and directed by Julius Berg, with Samuel Labarthe, Suzanne Clément, and Alexia Barlier playing key roles.
The story kicks off with the disappearance of a teenage girl. Lieutenant Virginie Musso (Suzanne Clément) and Captain Decker (Samuel Labarthe) investigate the case, discovering that similar disappearances have happened in the past. They are aided in their investigation by one of the girl’s teachers, Ève Mendel (Barlier), who herself had a traumatic experience in the forest many years ago. It’s a fascinating miniseries that you’d certainly enjoy if you’re a fan of European television.
True Detective Season 1
The very image of the chestnut figurines at the center of The Chestnut Man is enough to draw comparisons to True Detective, especially its first season. Created by Nic Pizzolatto, the HBO series is an anthology with each season dealing with a completely separate story.
Season 1 follows the career of two Louisiana State Police homicide detectives, skipping between the past and the present to expose a twisted conspiracy. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson star in the season as the eternally pessimistic Rustin “Rust” Cohle and his family-man partner Martin “Marty” Hart respectively. The story begins with the ritualistic murder of a prostitute, with a strange object made of twigs left at the crime scene. These twig-things eventually lead Rust and Marty on a dark journey that walks the line between reality and madness.
With its star-studded cast and mind-bending narrative, True Detective Season 1 is one of the best mystery shows you could watch. And if you’re looking for a brilliant series to follow up The Chestnut Man, this is one show you absolutely must check out.
Bond schmond. The villains are who we’re excited to see next, and these actors deserve a shot at the role.
About The Author