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The unlikely killer: why you can’t miss this Nordic cop

The real case of the murder of Olof Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden, in February 1986, is related in this fiction, telling the story of the alleged murderer, Stig Engströmel

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The unlikely killer: why you can't miss this Nordic cop

“Based on an unsolved crime.” This is how The Improbable Killer begins, and perhaps it is the best phrase to start the story of this story. The cold-blooded murder on the streets of Stockholm’s Norrmalm neighborhood paralyzed all of Sweden: Prime Minister Olof Palme had been killed. The parallelism with the assassination of John F. Kennedy was not long in making all the headlines around the world.

This is the trigger to begin this six-episode miniseries in which all the theories about what happened that fateful night of February 28, 1986, are traversed and investigated.

The Unlikely Killer is based on the book The Unlikely Murderer by Thomas Pettersson, which singled out graphic designer Stig Engström as Palme’s killer. Swedish police and prosecutors suspected him, but no thread could be linked properly. The case – we know in advance – did not have a defendant tried and is really death to this day that generates confusion among all of Swedish society. Who killed the prime minister?

This is how The improbable murderer then goes through the alleged perpetrators of the crime and all the hypotheses that were considered about the murderers who were, from members of the far-right party, people close to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or members of the South African secret services linked to apartheid.

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A Scene From The Improbable Killer: Prime Minister Olof Palme And His Wife Lisbeth, Leaving The Cinema; Minutes Later, The Politician Would Be Assassinated

Palme was a politician who worked tirelessly on Sweden’s link to foreign policy. He was a great defender of pacifism and had a neutral position in the Cold War conflict. He was also the first leader in Europe to make an official visit to Cuba after the revolution. He even mediated at the UN to achieve peace in the Iran-Iraq War. And he came to strongly criticize the intervention of the United States in Vietnam. He also knew how to be an opponent of all imperialism in the world.

Palme is considered in history a pacifist leader who fought for his ideals and who met his death very soon.

The series traces the time of the murder and the days that followed, which included the collection of testimonies, witnesses, and statements to the press by Stig Engström. But then fiction takes a time jump to 2008 when journalist Thomas Pettersson began to thoroughly investigate the Olof Palme murder case. The whole puzzle that this chronicler is putting together leads him to the discovery of new clues that directly linked Engström to the moment of the crime.

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Stig Engström, The Probable Assassin Of The Swedish Prime Minister

Stig is a lonely man, although he lives with his wife in a small house in a quiet neighborhood in Sweden. He is the classic middle-class member who works in a company with a certain schedule, dresses neatly, has little social life, and almost no friends. Impossible that the collective imagination found him guilty of such a heinous crime. What better than imagining twisted theories about international murderers or members of far-right groups or even some addict living on the cold streets of Stockholm?

The series has a great reconstruction of the time of the 80s, where it is shown again that the lack of technology (cameras, cell phones, internet) played against the resolution of this case. The unlikely killer shows how Stig sees that different theories are being handled while he knows for sure that he is solely responsible for Palme’s death. And it is precise that Engström was unlikely to be the murderer. What could lead him to commit this crime? An interesting and different proposal that you can enjoy on Netflix.


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Written by Christina d'souza

Proofreader, editor, journalist. I have been doing my favourite thing for more than six years.

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