CRIME series are ten a penny. There are the twee country house murders of yesteryear so loved by viewers of Agatha Christie mysteries.
Then the are the police procedurals that provide the back-bone of TV’s cop show output and the big budget US action packed dramas such as NCIS and CSI.
Of late, the Nordic Noir strand has added greatly to the choice of crime available, from The Bridge to Trapped, from Sweden to Iceland and Denmark, we can now join “police forces” across Europe as they track down ruthless serial killers.
Many of these series are gritty affairs and some Nordic Noir producers have credited our very own Taggart as inspiration for their dark hearts.
However, it’s a French crime drama that perhaps does dark, better than any other.
The fourth series of Braquo has just been release on DVD.
Created by world-famous filmmaker and former police office Olivier Marchal, Braquo is described as a “lean, tense and highly addictive drama”.
Braquo, slang for Heist, follows a squad of Paris cops who exist on the blurred boundaries at the edge of the law, often using violence and intimidation to get the job done.
The lives of these officers change radically when their squad leader, falsely accused of corruption, commits suicide.
Determined to clear his name they start an investigation of their own, only to find that the police department itself stands in their way.
Driven by adrenaline and a thirst for justice, they must turn their backs on the laws they’re sworn to enforce if they are to uncover the truth. Facing constant danger from all sides – and with the two most likely outcomes being imprisonment or death – the stakes couldn’t be higher, but that merely serves to crank up the action.
Like a modern-day French version of The Sweeney, the lines between police and criminals often merge and the political machinations within the department are never quite what they first seem.
In season four, Caplan and his team are again confronted by the fierce and ruthless gangster Baba Aroudji whose only son was killed by Morlighem during a police raid.
Four series in, Braquo has lost little of the initial force and focus of the original series, which is unusual.
A complex cast of characters, built up over the four years appear, disappear and then reappear without warning, weaving a web of intrigue that is ingeniously plotted and shocking.
It’s everythinga cop drama should be as long as you can cope with having to read the subtitles – it always amazes me how quickly doing so becomes instinctive.
Need an antidote to all the fluffy Christmas bonhomie?
You could do worse than check out Braquo.
Braquo Season is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Braquo Season 1-3 is also available as a Blu-ray & DVD Box Set from Amazon and Zavvi.