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Is Netflix's new creepy Nordic noir series The Chestnut Man based on a true story?

Here's what we know about the inspiration behind the series...

chestnut man
Eve Crosbie
TV & Film Writer
5 October 2021
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Netflix has been at the top of its game with some brand new content recently. One foreign-language drama that has got viewers talking (besides Squid Game) is new psychological thriller series The Chestnut Man.

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The new Nordic Noir focuses on a serial killer in Copenhagen who targets young mothers and leaves handmade matchsticks dolls and chestnuts near each crime scene. Creepy, right? But is the show based on a true story? Here's what we know…

WATCH: Are you watching The Chestnut Man on Netflix?

While the murder mystery feels like it could have been ripped from the headlines, it's actually not based on a true story. Instead, the series is an adaptation of the 2019 novel of the same name by acclaimed Danish writer Søren Sveistrup. 

However, some of the story's plot is based in reality. Speaking to Crime By the Book about the inspiration behind the novel, Søren revealed that creating chestnut dolls are an annual tradition in Denmark. 

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He said: "One Autumn day a few years ago I came to pick up my youngest in kindergarten and I saw the kids assembling chestnut men while they were singing a children's song: 'Chestnut man, do come in, Chestnut man, do come in'. To me, the invitation sounded creepy even though the context was so innocent. Or maybe exactly because the context was innocent. Anyway, I decided to follow my anxieties and use the small doll as a signature on a scene of crime."

chestnut man 2© Photo: Netflix

The series is based on the 2019 book of the same name

Viewers might recognise Søren's name, as he is also the screenwriter behind the hugely popular Danish television phenomenon The Killing, which won various international awards even got a US remake. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the Michael Fassbender film The Snowman, based on Norwegian author Jo Nesbø's novel. 

chestnut man© Photo: Netflix

The writer behind the show drew inspiration from the real-life tradition of creating chestnut dolls

Søren also serves as the head writer for the Netflix adaptation, which has been going down a treat with viewers. Many have been sharing their verdict on Twitter, with many labelling it the "best crime thriller" in years. 

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As one wrote: "#ChestnutMan is one of the best crime thriller series I have seen recent times, amazing writing and suspense definitely exceeded my expectations."

Another said of the show: "Great #NordicNoir with a simple storyline but executed in a manner that truly lives up to the name of thriller. Even though slow at times, I was gripped at the edge of my seat," and a third simply wrote: "The Chestnut Man on Netflix. Stop what you're doing and go watch it now!"

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