Helsinki Crimes: A Non-Spoiler Review

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Image shows poster for Helsinki Crimes with male lead right and female lead left


🇫🇮 Helsinki Crimes (2022-) is a Finnish TV series available on All4 Walter Presents U.K. It has 8 episodes of 36 – 41 minutes duration. Rated Guidance for content. In Finnish with embedded English subtitles.


“Follows Timo Harjunpää, a popular detective known for his honesty and empathy for the victims, as well as the criminals. He and his partner Onerva Nykanen are investigating a wave of murders taking place in Helsinki.” IMDb


Olli Rahkonen as Timo Harjunpää
Olga Temonen as Onerva Nykänen
Sanna Saarijärvi as Sari Järvelä
Alma Pöysti as Hietanen
Emilia Neuvonen as Kottonen
Robin Svartström as Thurman
Jutta Järvinen as Elisa Harjunpää
Outi Condit as Oikeuslääkäri
Frida Rossi as Pauliina Harjunpää


Writer: Harri Virtanen
Directors: Matti Kinnunen & Hanna Bergholm
Cinematographer: Antti Ruusuvuori
Editors: Katja Pällijeff & Maija Sutela
Makeup Designer: Heidi Kjellman
Stunt Coordinator: Mika Huisman


Based on novels by Matti Yrjänä Joensuu (1948-2011)

Harri Virtanen also co-wrote 16 episodes of seasons 2-3 of the hit series Deadwind (Netflix)

What is bokeh?


I consider myself a bit of a fan of Finnish crime dramas including Deadwind, Bordertown and All the Sins. So I was excited as soon as I heard that Helsinki Crimes was coming to Walter Presents U.K. in 2023. I’m a fan of crime dramas in general therefore I draw on shows and films from both within and outside the Nordics when watching them.

Helsinki Crimes 8 episodes follow a fairly unusual format of having individual cases extending over 2, rather than single episodes. I liked the way that while we had continuing story arcs for our main police officers there was a decent amount of time spent on the cases, the victims and in particular the suspects and perpetrators.

One of the traditions of Nordic noir is to shine a spotlight on the effect of cases on the police officers themselves. In fact, this is very much the standard for most crime procedurals. We do see the effects upon our two main characters but in many ways, they are surprisingly normal. Their working lives impinge on their family and social lives (and sleeping arrangements!) I felt by the end of the series that I not only liked the leads but that I knew a lot about them and their families.

I very much liked the chats that they would have after a case was concluded. These seemed natural but also helped, I think, to draw attention to what they see as the causes or triggers of these crimes.

One of the best things about this show, for me, was the way that it delved into the background of the criminals and perpetrators of what are often very disturbing and thoroughly hideous crimes. However, rather than the over-simplistic “It’s because they had an awful childhood” reason being repeated throughout the whole issue of nature vs nurture is raised. One of the cases especially shows that having a terrible upbringing does not in itself mean that a person will become a psychopathic murderer.

One of the aspects we see in various forms is the difference between a range of people with personality disorders. Some have no empathy or remorse while others do. The most convincing of all will have a veneer of normality deliberately secured for themselves.

The way this series is written is intelligent and makes you question your own prejudices, challenging the viewer with their own assumptions about people (the final episode was outstanding in this respect).

I really liked both the cinematography and direction in Helsinki Crimes. One thing the hand-held camerawork did was make it feel more documentary/fly on the wall and immediate as a viewer. The use of bokeh (see Notes] was very effective indeed as it draws the eye to “the person of interest.” The music was good in this show as well; I can’t see a credit to the composer etc. on IMDb, but kudos!

I thoroughly enjoyed all 8 episodes of this series. The subject matter certainly does not make it easy to watch at times and the way the cases are approached is deliberately disturbing. Some parts are genuinely upsetting and those who are more used to, or prefer, the gentler, less gritty and discomforting fare may well struggle. These criminals are not endearing but we do have an opportunity to think about possible reasons for their crimes and deviant behaviour. In at least one case though we might just think “Psychopath!”

Bearing in mind this is neither a show which is a bundle of laughs nor one that gives nice simplistic answers and which is genuinely disturbing rather than “cosy” cop work, I can heartily recommend it.

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