mike shepherd and the brokenwood mysteries

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Murder Down Under – Very Down Under

It’s a classic whodunnit.

We are in the countryside. There is a police inspector and a small team of assistants following his steps. It’s easy-going – always. There is murder. The murder is tricky, strange, unexpected … even weird. Of course there is often more than a single murder. Often there is also some mystery, some injustice, some deed committed in the past, which set into action some strange events suddenly and nowadays. (Does this remind anybody of Agatha Christie’s novels? Well – I feel a hint of it!)

However, we are in New Zealand – we are not in the cosy, but often cruel English countryside or at the chichi Riviera. There are no small bucolic B&Bs, no cottages covered in roses (or whatever might flourish). We don’t learn anything about the sins of landed gentry and of the odd millionaire or other – or the secrets of any aged nanny or cook once having ruled the annexes of the main wing, while the family took their teas keeping up appearances.

Detective Senior Sergeant (DSS) Mike Shepherd is confronted with all shades of murder, but he is smart enough to solve even the absurdest crime case. Coming from Auckland his indispensable local pillar is Detective Constable (DC) Kristin Sims. Mike left Auckland and his city career, accepting a degradation from DI (Detective Inspector) to DSS, for the quiet Brokenwood, which isn’t, however, as quiet as it seems. Brokenwood comes up with a nasty surprise every now and then. In short: Mike enjoys his new life – his exciting life concerning his murder cases as well as his relaxed life in New Zealand’s countryside.

Brokenwood is a vast community at the seaside – and I assume it’s very New Zealand-ish. You may miss the picturesque manor house of the English countryside, the cottages, the small churches with their always crumbling church towers … Upper class homes in Brokenwood are more like modern, gleaming bungalows made from glass and steel.

Murder is horrible, but solving any murder mysteries might be quite entertaining, especially when there are some quite odd people populating the scene. Remember: each village has its freaks. Mike never loses his sense of humor whenever being confronted with amateur detectives or persistent elderly widows who like to gossip. Of course there are also some aborigines.

The series is a success in New Zealand and new seasons see the light of the day regularly – even if they need their time to arrive in Europe. It’s comfort crime at its best.

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare