Witnesses: Series 2 (DVD)

 
Witnesses: Series 2 (DVD)
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Witnesses: Series 2 (DVD)

A country road in northern France. A scene that sends chills down the spine: the bodies of 15 men, frozen and lined up inside a bus, as if a snowstorm had left them permanently frozen in their seats. The case is assigned to Lieutenant Sandra Winckler, who quickly finds a link between the dead men: all of them were involved at one time another with a woman named Catherine Keemer. But there’s a hitch: Catherine disappeared three years ago. They manage to track her down, but she’s all alone and can’t remember a thing… except that she gave birth to a baby.

Initially a suspect, Catherine is soon cleared by Sandra, who thinks a psychopath is behind the sordid affair. She’s convinced the killer murders all the men in his victims' lives, before wiping out their memories. The two women’s destinies merge, as Catherine searches for her lost child and Sandra follows her gut instincts to track down the killer, despite her superior’s misgivings. They must find the serial killer before he targets another woman. But is it already too late? Because Lieutenant Winckler’s lovers have started to disappear, one after the other…

Review

Let’s call this latest offering from the French what it really is: another superior piece of crime television. Interpret it as the next chapter of Nordic Noir if you must, but don’t forget that France has been releasing quality television for years in the form of Braquo, Spiral, Le Passager and the recent Disappearance. The first season of Witnesses highlighted the gorgeous scenery in and around the town of Le Treport in northern France and the coast of Normandy; this series also showcases various scenes at the monastery of Mont Saint Michel.

The premise is as fascinating as was the first season. Fifteen frozen bodies of well-dressed men are found in a bus on a desolate stretch of road in the French countryside. How did they get there? Who are they? Marie Dompnier returns as Inspector Sandra Winckler to lead the case and solve these mysteries. A few years have passed since the last season and circumstances have changed. Sandra is no longer married and has custody of her two daughters (one of whom has a mouth on her!). She’s no longer working with old instructor Paul Maisonneaure, and she is finding love, let alone relationships, hard to come by.

As the case progresses, it’s discovered that all 15 men on the bus had been in a relationship with one woman. The lady in question, Catherine Keemer, is played brilliantly by Audrey Fleurot, who some will know as the cut-throat lawyer in Spiral. The catch here is that she has been missing for years, and awakes with amnesia.

Without giving too much away, both Sandra and Catherine go rogue in an effort to find the killer. You don’t have to wait till the final episode to find out who the perpetrator is – but this slow-burn of a series has enough secrets, moody French people and wonderful windswept vistas to keep you thoroughly absorbed! I wrote two years ago that the first season was my show of the year … well, guess what? Here we go again!


Lou Fulco works as a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.

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