Jordskott has the all the hallmarks of a great mystery. Here’s our guide to making the perfect detective show.
Write a baffling, twisty mystery
Death/s or disappearance/s are the most popular launching pads – preferably shocking (the death of young Danny Latimer in Broadchurch, the split torsos in The Bridge), tragic (the disappearance of Tui Mitcham in Top Of The Lake) mysterious (Josefine in Jordskott) suspicious (any of the thousands of deaths on Midsumer Murders) or unfathomable with a supernatural twist (The Kettering Incident), or all of the above.
Add MacGuffins and red herrings galore.
Your detectives must be nosey, very nosey
They must revel in sticking their nose in all manner of dirty laundry. Most of all, whatever their style, they must be dogged, possibly to the detriment of their own wellbeing.
Have at least one detective with a personal battle
It adds another element of depth to the drama. They may have Asperger’s (Saga Noren, The Bridge), they may be bereaved (Eva Thörnblad, Jordskott), a high functioning alcoholic (Jane Tennison, Prime Suspect), see dead people (John River, River) or have heart problems (Alec Hardy, Broadchurch).
Clues should be convenient, bafflingly far-fetched, random or perfectly practical
But whatever you do, as one detective in Jordskott warns, don’t jump to conclusions as you try to solve the mystery. If it’s a good mystery, nothing is what it seems.
Make sure there’s multiple, credible suspects, preferably from a small town
Setting a detective show in a small town is perfect because it creates a tight knit lineup of suspects and is great for percolating tension. From the seemingly innocent, to the dodgy to the unlikely, always imbue the lineup with an undercurrent of malevolence and paranoia.
Make it edgy with an unhurried pace, Nordic Noir style
Like The Bridge, The Killing, The Millennium Trilogy, Broadchurch, London Spy and countless others. The inky, dark themes are synonymous with the mystery - which doesn’t have to be solved with a tidy bow at the end of each episode a la Midsomer Murders.
Create a resolution that’s unexpected or at least credible
That is, not too far-fetched. Make sure to surprise your audience but cleverly, stealthily. Don’t cheat by elevating a minor character to culprit status. That’s lazy story telling and cruel to an audience who has invested in the main suspects and is betting on one or more of them being the perpetrator/s.