Helmed by Till Franzen, Netflix’s ‘Close to Home: Murder in the Coalfield’ (originally known as ‘Lauchhammer – Tod in der Lausitz’) is a German crime thriller series that follows Detective Maik Briegand, who returns to his hometown, Lauchhammer, following a mysterious murder. When a 17-year-old girl’s body is found near a coal mining plant in town, he teams up with Annalena Gottknecht, the LKA investigator, to solve the case. However, as the two delve deeper into finding the truth, they realize that the townsfolk hide complicated secrets and that everyone is somehow connected to the murder.
Besides, Maik is forced to confront his own past demons while the killer decides to strike again. Featuring powerful performances of actors like Mišel Matičević, Odine Johne, Marc Hosemann, and Ella Lee, the mystery show explores several relevant themes like drug abuse, climate change, and serial killers. Moreover, the realistic setting of an eerie small town with suspicious residents makes one wonder if ‘Close to Home: Murder in the Coalfield’ is connected to reality. If you wish to know the same, here’s what we found!
Is Close to Home: Murder in the Coalfield a True Story?
No, ‘Close to Home: Murder in the Coalfield’ is not based on a true story. Instead, the show’s original screenplay can be credited to the brilliant minds of writers Frauke Hunfeld and Silke Zertz. Though the story is primarily fictional, the makers likely drew inspiration from numerous actual crime cases to craft the narrative and characters. Apart from the central murder, which kickstarts the chain of events, the show deals with issues like drug addiction and sexual abuse.
Interestingly, crime rates in small towns are lower than in cities, given the higher population density and smaller area. Thus, even the most minor incident seems unusual and can deeply unsettle the citizens, as seen with the residents of Lauchhammer. In the Netflix series, Maik’s father faced a similar murder case thirty years ago, but the investigation was abruptly shut. Furthermore, the incident got dismissed as an accident because the possibility of a serial killer seemed too far-fetched in such a remote town.
In addition, the residents wanted to conceal their shady dealings and save themselves, which even Maik faces three decades later with an eerily similar case. In reality, many such cases sadly remain unsolved due to the involvement of influential people, reflecting the corruption rampant in the legal system. Not just that, several TV shows and movies have explored the concept of a detective with a troubled past who returns to a small town to solve a complex case. However, the most relevant example has to be that of Amazon Prime’s ‘Three Pines.’
The crime drama show follows Inspector Armand Gamache, who arrives in the titular small town to solve cases involving the intertwined secrets of the townsfolk. Much like Detective Maik, even he grapples with a tragic past that hampers his present but eventually ends up aiding him in decoding the case he’s working on. Another show that revolves around similar tropes of a series of murders that disturb a small town is Netflix’s ‘Black Spot.’ The crime drama show revolves around a police chief and a prosecutor who join forces to catch a serial killer on the loose, reminding one of Maik and Annalena from ‘Close to Home: Murder in the Coalfield.’
Apart from the themes of serial killers and murders, the Netflix series covers another relevant issue — the shift in a town’s ideologies with changing times. For instance, Detective Maik’s in-laws have worked as coal miners for decades, but his daughter, Jackie, is against the same and joins a protest against mining as a climate activist. This highlights the generational gap in modern society and how it has impacted the ever-evolving dynamics and landscape of both big cities and small towns. In summation, even though the German series is not rooted in reality, its narrative and characters represent real-life problems and scenarios.