03 July 2022

More Boxes, More Idiots

This column drafts in the wake of John’s article yesterday regarding favorite series on the Harlan Coben channel, aka Netflix. I love a great plot but what I tend to remember are characters. John, I, and others have mentioned Queen’s Gambit. It is one of the few shows that I give its rating a slight edge over the novel. It’s that good.

Elise Wassermann, Karl Roebuck
Elise Wassermann, Karl Roebuck

The Tunnel (and The Bridge and The Bridge)

Two series I recommend are related, The Tunnel (French) and The Bridge (Mexican). I've not yet seen the original Scandinavian version. The Bridge is good, but I especially liked The Tunnel. The heroine reminds me more than a little of a French friend. Elise (actress Clémence Poésy) is probably on the spectrum, as folks say, and she’s constantly surprised that people like her. The wrapup is a shocker.

Behind the scenes, producers added a touch of class. They presented every Chunnel (Eurotunnel) employée with DVDs of the series as thanks for their time and effort in advising and assisting the film crew in a highly secure site.

cast members of family
The family: Chema, Mariana Lazcano, César Lazcano, Alex, Sara, Rodolfo, Elisa

Who Killed Sara

I haven’t seen the new season, but this Mexican production is particularly well cast and well acted. The characters, particularly César Lazcano, the primary bad guy, are complex with diverse motivations. He wistfully mentions he wishes he had a son like his adversary.

It’s become de rigueur to insert gay characters in gratuitous spots and then draw attention to them. (“Hey, look who we included!”) Sara takes the time and effort to flesh out the Lazcano son Chema, a fully realized character from childhood crush to, well, adult crush. The viewer might not be gay, but he (or she) would have to be one cold-hearted bastard not to feel Chema’s heart break.

Fletcher Ice Pick Nix
Fletcher 'Ice Pick' Nix


SleuthSayers agree. This is Elmore Leonard’s modern old-fashioned Kentucky cowboy quick-draw Federal Marshal whereupon we happily suspend disbelief, including disbelief the series will reprise as Justified: City Primeval. You’ve probably seen Justified, but if not, it’s catching its breath over on Prime.

I kept rooting for the bad guy, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), wanting him to find the right path. No matter what Crowder does, he’s shunted to the dark side. Both good guy Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and Crowder are brilliantly cast.

Another cleverly cast baddie appears in the first episode of season 3, Fletcher ‘Ice Pick’ Nix, assuming of course anyone still knows what an ice pick is. The kind of guy who brings a knife to a gunfight is chillingly portrayed by Desmond Harrington in an ingenious plot tactic.

It’s too easy when you’re the good looking lead, and I say that with all modesty. But one other wonderful character is Constable Bob (actor Patton Oswalt). Bob Sweeney looks like a small man with a trashbox car, but he’s huge on the inside. Unlike hero Givens, he’s not the fellow most guys would like to be; he’s the fellow most guys need.


Intimidad is a Spanish political mystery drama set in a city I so wish to visit, Bilbao. The title should translate more like Privacy than Intimacy, but it’s more about intimidation.

Two threads involve the illegal sharing of private sex videos. In one plot line, Bego deals with the suicide of her friend Ane, and in meeting Investigator Alicia, crosses paths with Malen, a smart and clever politician who has just been appointed Mayor pro term of Bilbao. Videos of Malen, who is married, surface. Her lover turns out to be the reckless son of a major businessman, killed in an auto accident.

The question arises: Who paid the lover to seduce Malen, and then beat and subsequently kill the lover?

Here we run into a problem where the producer believes in characterization at the expense of plot. We come to admire Investigator Alica and Bego (Begonia), and we ache for Ane. Malen is made of sterner stuff and the fallout from her public indiscretion affects her husband and child as much as the politician. As a bonus, the series presents a believable insight into politics.

But the dénouement presents a major problem. The designated bad guy previously had mere moments of screen time and the weakest of motives. Indeed, Inspector Alicia and others seem to apologize profusely, trying to explain away why this particular guy masterminded this dastardly plot.

As mystery readers and writers, we have expectations. Authors don’t pick a perpetrator out of thin air and appoint a bad guy, not without good reason, not without clues. And Intimidad had so many choices! Seriously.

Cast of Intimidad (6 women)
Cast of Intimidad: Ane, Bego, Malen, Leire, Alicia, Miren

Have you seen Intimacy/Intimadad? What say you?

Let us know. Thanks to John for initiating this train of thought and chain of events.


  1. Okay, Leigh, you've given me at least three more series I now need to watch. And I will, too, because you certainly steered me right when you suggested The 7 Lives of Lea a couple of weeks ago. For some reason I tend to overlook many of these foreign-made series, and some of those (like Lea) turn out to be really well done.


    1. John, I like most of the foreign series I've watched. I've mentioned European and Mexican series here, but some great work is coming out of Australia, South Africa, South America, and no doubt other places I'm overlooking. Although it's not a mystery, I particularly suggest Servant of the People with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a smart, political humor drama that showcases Ukraine's President and clarifies what a crime Russia is committing.

      By the way, I joked at Harlan Coben's presence on Netflix. He's not only known for dramas set here in the US, but has set some in Europe.

  2. I hadn't realized there was a French version of the Bridge/Tunnel. I've seen the Swedish version (1st series) and the American version with Diane Krueger. Both also recommended.

    1. Having worked in France with a friend a bit like Elise, it's possible I developed a softer spot for The Tunnel. But her character arc is superbly crafted and by the time we reach the third and final season, she's become family. I think you'll like it.


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