Bestselling German crime writer Charlotte Link is known for creating page turners with intriguing characters and intricate plots. Her novels serve as the inspiration for a trilogy of TV adaptations now available to stream on MHz Choice. All three films are in German with English subtitles.
The first film, Cheated, based on Link’s 2015 Die Betrogene, opens with a vicious attack. A hooded intruder breaks into the home of a retired police officer, hitting him on the head, strapping him into a chair, and then suffocating him with a plastic bag. The assailant makes sure the victim knows the reason for the deadly assault.
Scotland Yard Detective Kate Linville (Peri Baumeister) receives word that her father, Richard, a retired police officer, has been killed. She returns to her hometown of Scalby to arrange the funeral. Rather than stay in a hotel, she remains in her childhood home, which is now a crime scene. Caleb Hale (Dirk Borchardt), a former colleague of Richard’s, is in charge of the investigation. While still grieving, Kate is at heart a police officer and this murder is personal. Hale’s main suspect is a convicted criminal whom Richard once put behind bars. But when Melissa Cooper, a family friend, is killed in a similar manner, Kate believes the two crimes are linked. When Hale refuses to follow up on her leads, she takes matters into her own hands. But in the process, she turns up some family secrets that tarnish her father’s shining reputation.
Cheated is a fast-paced thriller with a talented cast, mostly unknown to U.S. audiences, but now on our radar. Clues as to the identity of the killer are dropped but the ending is surprising and satisfying.
In the Valley of the Fox (Im Tal des Fuchses) is all about relationships. Matthew Willard (Benjamin Sadler) and his wife, Vanessa (Katharina Schüttler), are in a car arguing. Matthew has been offered a job in London and would like to move; Vanessa wants to stay in Germany. They pull off in a cul de sac so that Matthew can walk their dog. While he’s gone, a white van pulls up. The driver, Ryan (Ludwig Trepte), owes some very bad people money and decides to kidnap someone for ransom. He subdues Vanessa and carries her down the hill and into a cave where he nails her into a coffin. His plan is to call Matthew and ask for enough money to pay off debt. Unfortunately, when he returns home, he’s arrested on another charge.
Taken to the police station, Ryan sees Matthew reporting the disappearance of his wife. Ryan makes the decision to stay silent, sealing Vanessa’s fate. Three years later, Ryan is out of prison, but haunted by what he did. And the thugs are still after him for the money he owes.
For Matthew, not knowing what happened to Vanessa keeps him from moving on. Did she escape? Is she dead? Alexia (Christina Hecke) and Ken (And Klawitter), two friends who seem to have a storybook marriage, invite him to dinner, along with Jenna (Lisa Bitter), a reporter for the Swansea Herald, a local newspaper, which Alexia runs. Jenna is attracted to Matthew but she’s also intrigued about Vanessa’s disappearance and begins investigating. Doing so, however, places other people in danger. Another nail biter.
No good deed goes unpunished in the third film, The Decision. For the holidays, Simon Lemberger (Felix Klare) is expecting his children to join him at his house in the south of France. Not only do they cancel, but his girlfriend, Kristina, also turns down his invitation. He goes for a walk and encounters two men assaulting Nathalie (Jasna Fritzi Bauer), saying she owes them money. He pays them and offers Nathalie a place to stay for the night. What he doesn’t know is that Nathalie is fleeing a brutal human trafficking organization. Soon the two are on the run and can’t even count on the police for protection. The standout in this film is Bauer, who conveys the vulnerability, but also the resourcefulness of a young woman who knows she has to save herself.
The three Charlotte Link films can be streamed on MHz Choice.
Top photo: Jasna Fritzi Bauer in “Charlotte Link: The Decision”
Photos courtesy of MHz Choice