Witnesses: A Frozen Death is a French crime drama, borrowing more than a little from the ever-so-successful Scandi-noir stable but it also manages to carve out a little new ground for itself in the process.
The discovery of an abandoned bus on a country lane is a little strange. What is even more strange is that it contains 15 dead, frozen men, all dressed up with nowhere to go. Enter Detective Sandra Winckler (the impressive Marie Dompnier) to take the lead in this investigation. Who are these men? Where did they come from? Why are they frozen? All good questions and all, eventually, get answered but not before a good deal of speculation, barking up wrong trees and good ol’ misdirection.
The first thread to follow is what links all these men and we are lead to a woman called Catherine Keemer (Audrey Fleurot), who herself has been missing for the last 3 years. Surprisingly, she shows up with no recollection of where or what she has been doing since her disappearance. As much as Det. Winckler needs to find out who has done this and why, Catherine also needs to find out what has happened to her.
As the series, and the investigation, progresses the theories expand and multiply, creating a bit of confusion as the investigative team splits up and you are left wondering who is following which thread and how it relates to the whole case. It is, however, fairly well paced throughout, leaving you eager to find out what happens next.
One drawback to utilising the Scandi-schema is that you are susceptible to the stereotypes that are prevalent and unfortunately Det Winckler falls foul of this: Excellent at her job but a failure in her personal life; constantly breaking the rules but no repercussions; in a modern world she shuns the high tech and prefers driving around in a battered old model and even dresses like she’s in the 70’s. But apart from these minor gripes on the whole it is a stylish, well acted and decently creepy series at times, managing to imbue some mysticism into the investigation and the scenario, enough to lift it above the normal.