Happy Valley Series 2, Arctic thrills (Nesbo & McGrath)…and going green

My day is made: I’ve just heard the news that the second series of Happy Valley begins on BBC 1 next Tuesday, 9 February at 9pm.

Happy Valley 1

The first series of Happy Valley was one of the best TV crime dramas I’ve ever seen, with a wonderful lead, Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire), and a storyline that was gripping and moving in equal measure. The script by acclaimed screenwriter Sally Wainwright was top-notch, celebrating female strength and endurance while exploring tough themes such as grief, gender and power, and the consequences of greed.

Series 2 picks up the story eighteen months after the end of series 1. Tommy Lee Royce is still safely locked up in prison, but continues to cast a shadow over Cawood’s life as she attempts to get on with raising her grandson and doing her job. Episode 1 starts off with a mild case of West Yorkshire sheep rustling, but things soon take a more serious turn… There are six episodes in total.

Here’s the trailer to whet your appetite and a great Guardian piece on the show (‘What makes Happy Valley TV’s most realistic police drama?’):

Other TV dramas I’m enjoying at the moment include Channel 4’s Deutschland 83 (which I’ll blog on more fully at the end of the series) and Vera, which has just started over on ITV. I’ve had to consciously pull myself back to some reading, not least as the Petrona Award judges will be meeting soon to shortlist for this year’s prize.

Midnight Sun

One of the submissions is Jo Nesbø’s Midnight Sun, expertly translated from the Norwegian by Neil Smith (Harvill Secker, 2015). I confess that I’ve sometimes struggled with Nesbø’s novels. While I like some of the ‘Harry Hole’ series, such The Redbreast (2006), and always initially enjoy the writing, I’ve put more than one of the novels aside when the violence becomes too eye-watering. Midnight Sun stayed within acceptable boundaries for me on that score, and as a result, I really enjoyed this tale of a young man on the run from Oslo’s nastiest underworld boss. Jon’s escape route leads him to Kåsund, a small (possibly fictitious) settlement near Alta in the Finnmark region of northern Norway, which lies in the Arctic Circle (close to Tromsø on the map below). Here, this city dweller has to deal with northerly solitude, the disorientating midnight sun, his Sami and Laestadian neighbours, and the threat of being found. The novel’s characterisation is rich, the geographical and cultural settings are intriguing, and the plot unfolds in a leisurely fashion, allowing Jon’s relationship with a young woman and her son from the nearby Laestadian religious community to grow at a natural pace. The novel also features the most original fugitive hiding place I’ve seen in a long time.

Another novel with a similar setting, which features the Norwegian Reindeer Police, is Olivier Truc’s Forty Days without Shadow see my earlier review here.

Arctic Circle

I’ve also just started M.J. McGrath’s third ‘Edie Kiglatuk’ novel, The Bone Seeker (Pan, 2015). I’m delighted to be back in Edie’s world as I love her company, and one of the series’ big strengths is the detail it gives about Inuit life on Umingmak Nuna (Ellesmere Island, in green on the left of the map) up in the High Arctic. The history, geography and culture of the region all fascinate me, bearing out Karen’s comments in the previous post about enriching the reading experiences of far-away audiences.

The novel opens with the disappearance of young Inuit Martha Salliaq, one of the students Edie has been teaching at a school in Kuujuaq. When a body is discovered in a polluted lake near a decommissioned radar station, a complex investigation begins… Like Nesbo’s novel, The Bone Seeker is set during the arctic summer in seemingly eternal daylight, and I’m very much looking forward to reading more. It’s beautifully written and a genuine crime fiction treat.

Bone Seeker

Finally, some of you may have noticed that this blog has turned a little green. The new design and colour scheme celebrate the fact that Crime Fiction in German has gone to press! The blog banner is taken from the marvellous cover by the University of Wales Press. Watch this space for further news about the publication date and launch.



22 thoughts on “Happy Valley Series 2, Arctic thrills (Nesbo & McGrath)…and going green

  1. I do like McGrath’s work, Mrs. P., so I’m biased. Even so, I think you’ll like that release. And I must watch Happy Valley!

    • Enjoying very much so far! If you haven’t yet seen Happy Valley then you’re in for a treat, although I’d be interested to get an American perspective on it.

  2. I love the new green background Mrs P, and the map too. Always up for a good map me! I’ve read all Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole books and have to agree that in some places they were a bit gorey… Books set in the frozen north appeal to me, as it seems to make the plotlines more mysterious.The Norwegian Reindeer Police conjours up all sorts of unusual things. Is it a real unit? Roll on Happy Valley….

    • Thanks, Kathy! I’m calling the green on the cover ‘Schwarzwald on speed’ – especially designed to make any snoozy readers wake up.

      I love that map too, especially as it gives a different, polar perspective on the world. Suddenly you see how the north of Scandinavia and the north of Canada are linked through their arctic climates (not to mention quite a bit of Greenland and Russia).

      Yes, the Reindeer Police really does exist (see the review post for further details). It cheers me up no end to know that there are specially trained reindeer out there on police duty, wearing little police jackets (but no firearms…).

      Will be glued to the sofa on Tuesday for Happy Valley…

  3. Schwarzwald on speed, I had to chuckle at that one Mrs P. A really interesting report on the Sami and the Norwegian Reindeer Police, and I love the photo of the reindeer (so cute) with his minder. And of course ‘the map’! I will add Forty days without Shadow to my ever expanding list of BTR. So many books, so little time!

  4. Yippee new Scandi drama ‘Trapped’ starts next Saturday on 4, looks interesting going by the email they just sent out. love the new lay out, look forward to your book.
    Enjoying ‘Occupied’ on Sky Arts on Wednesdays, the idea is from Jo Nesbo, he does come up with some non Harry Hole stuff. Will b interesting to see Fassbender playing him in the Snowman, which started filming in Oslo.
    One of the best things on TV over Xmas was ‘All aboard the sleigh ride ‘ don’t know if you caught it, quiet brilliant, no voice overs or music, just the sound of the reindeers hoofs on the snow, with occasional info popping up, this program, & another one 4 did a few days later gave a totally different perspective on the Sami then that wretched book, I would not recommend it to anyone. These 2 programs portrayed them as a very proud indigenous people with a great culture. Plus the book was overlong!
    Enjoyed the ‘Steel Spring’, was dubious at first, but read it in one sitting. Politically based on Sweden & the social Democrarts, have ordered the second Jensson.

    • Hello Brian – I’ve just been writing up a post on Trapped which I’ll put out in the next couple of days. Looks like it has potential (but could also be creepily suspenseful, which I might not do so well with). It’ll be great to see an Icelandic crime drama on our screens!

      Midnight Sun struck me as a book that would adapt well for the screen. It feels to me like Nesbo is popping out quite a few short novels/novellas at the moment that function almost like a screenplay synopsis for production companies to pick up. He certainly has no shortage of winning ideas.

      I love the sound of All Aboard the Sleigh Ride. What a great idea. Will have to see if I can find it somewhere.

      Glad you liked Steel Spring. It’s a rather unusual crime novel, but I can see that it’s a perfect fit for Wahloo’s political worldview.

  5. I’ve just caught up with Happy Valley Series 1 on DVD. Fantastic, I watched episodes 4-5-6 straight through last Wednesday afternoon. I think this series and Hinterland are the equal of the very best Scandi Noir!

    • Totally agree with you, JanH – superb drama. Have just seen episode 2 of the latest series and the standard is just as high. Brilliant writing and acting.

  6. I’ve just started watching Happey Valley 2, and already the suspense is building up. Sarah Lancashire’s certainly come a long way from ‘our Raquel’ in Corrie…..

    • She has, hasn’t she? What an amazing career progression (another one who went a long way after an early soap role is Guy Pearce – started out on Neighbours before starring in Priscilla, Memento and LA Confidential).

      Episode 2 was brilliant – a few points there where I almost couldn’t breathe. Writing and acting both top notch.

      • Ah Guy Pearce. Also Russell Crowe too Mrs P, although he wasn’t in Neighbours for that long. Now people are going to know what else I watch on the TV 😊, other than series of great crime….

  7. Watched Happy Valley Series 2, episode 1, when in Delhi last week – totally hooked. Alas I am now back in China and between the BBCiPlayer system and the Great Fire Wall of China am unable to get episode 2. Am trying to find a computer guru who can help sort this out for me before I go crazy with frustration!!

      • Hoorah! managed to see it (episode 2) on my husbands laptop – mine is still playing silly bu**ers.
        Wow, it gets more and more gripping. We have an alcoholic in the family and the scene at night with Catherine and Clare was SO accurate it gave me goosebumps. Cracking series!

      • Glad you found a way, herschelian! Those scenes between Catherine and Clare were absolutely heartbreaking. It looks like it’ll be a very bumpy road…

Please leave your comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.