By Kristen Wohlers

Say it like this: “Shut- lun,” with emphasis on the “Shut,” and you can’t annunciate the “t” too much.

This BBC murder mystery series, available on Netflix, is set in the picturesque Shetland isles of Scotland, and half the fun of watching it is hearing the Scottish accents. On that note, it can be difficult to understand, so I suggest turning on those subtitles.

If you’re into foreign crime dramas, on Netflix, there’s no shortage of them. Netflix kindly recommended the show to me after I finished both seasons of the British drama “Broadchurch” in probably record time. Then after finishing “Shetland,” I’m onto reading subtitles on the Finnish crime drama “Borderland.”

“Shetland” is based on novels (which usually means it’s worth watching) by author Ann Cleeves. It follows the intense but lovable detective inspector Jimmy Perez, played by Douglas Henshall, a widower who cares for his teenage stepdaughter… and everyone else on the island. His sidekick, “Tosh,” played by Alison O’Donnell, is a bright spot in the show. Her sarcasm brings some needed comic relief.

Most of the mysteries resolve in two episodes. In the first episode of season one, an elderly woman is found murdered near her croft, or property, where an archaeological dig is taking place. Perez himself must dig, through the past that is, in order to uncover who did it and why. After a second murder, and plenty of misdirection, aye, Perez finds the unlikely suspect.

In season three, the storyline spans six episodes. It involves a man who never gets off the ferry to the island and is found later, suffocated to death in a boxcar. This season isn’t based on one of Cleeves’s novels in particular, but rather is “based on characters” from her novels. In other words, the show’s writers went rogue, and that may have been a mistake. These last episodes are slower, and seem to have some plot holes.


Even though season three doesn’t quite live up to the rest, in it, we get to see our beloved characters enter some new territory. These episodes tackle the issue of sexual abuse with seriousness and care. And we see a softer side of DI Perez, which involves a love interest.

If you want to go on a virtual vacation to Scotland, witness mysteries unfold, and practice your Scottish accent with your flatmate, then add “Shetland” to your watch list.

Kristen Wohlers