Starring: Luca Barbaresci, Natasha Stefanenko
Forget your sunglasses and bathers, we’re in the chilly north, not the sunny south, for this Italian detective series based on a series of novels by Valerio Varesi. Luca Barbareschi plays Commissario Soneri, a homicide detective in the city of Ferrara, where scarcely a day goes by without a body being fished out of the cold waters of the River Po and where everything is as shrouded in fog as Victorian London.
The first season was particularly strong, with stories that delved back into the region’s past – tensions between Communists and Fascists, ancestral wounds that date back to WWII. All stories seem to lead back to the river, and the series has a palpable sense of place – the sodden riverbank, the sly boatmen and fishermen who ply the waters, crumbling shacks next to misty lagoons.
As for Soneri himself, he’s a soulful, sensitive detective in the mould of Wycliffe or Resnick, and he likes nothing better than to ponder his cases in a leisurely manner at his favourite restaurant, over a plate of ravioli and beef. Meanwhile, he has a pleasantly slow-burning affair going on with beautiful attorney Angela Cornelio (Natasha Stefanenko).
It’s a compelling lead performance from Luca Barbaresci, an actor not very well known outside his home country. Imagine if you will a big, burly Italian John Thaw and you’ll have some notion of his impressive screen presence. Female viewers over here in the UK are likely to be very taken with his melting gaze and air of melancholy.
This second series delivers another set of six well-crafted, feature length episodes, with stories ranging from a swanky boating club with a sideline in gambling to the death of a lawyer who knows all the town’s dirty secrets. As before, the mysteries are elegantly constructed, gaining an extra emotional depth from an interweaving of social commentary and historical awareness.
With its cosily autumnal ambience and distinctive Northern Italian setting, Fog and Crimes is sure to have equal appeal to lovers of Nordic noir and traditional murder mysteries.