The series takes in themes and content related to, as the Netflix content warning explains, suicide, sexual violence, bad language and the theme of abduction. It has several things in common with one of the most famous Scandi-noir stories, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, featuring a tough but simultaneously vulnerable female protagonist, an older male journalist, past trauma informing present actions, and the uncovering of some truly vile criminals. The title also evokes another Scandi-noir story about a crime against a child, Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow by Peter Høeg, which was adapted into a film in 1997.
Of course, it won’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the climate of Spain is not quite the same as that of Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, or Finland. That’s probably why the original novel, although written in Spanish by a Spanish author, was set in New York City.
New York is, of course, not Scandinavia either, but the climate of its winters is much closer to the cold climate of Scandinavia than Spain’s is. In the novel, the (American) young girl is kidnapped from the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, which takes place in November. There is quite often snow in New York at that time of year, and throughout the winter, so it presumably seemed like a good setting for a Scandi-noir inspired story.
For the television adaptation, though, the story has been shifted to Castillo’s home town of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain. Sitting right on the Costa del Sol, Málaga is better known to British holiday makers as a resort for the hordes of British people looking to escape the rain in the summer and enjoy a beach holiday on the Mediterranean coast. It does rain in Málaga in the winter, but the temperature rarely goes below about 8°C even in January and the summers are hot and dry.
There are plenty of mystery and suspense stories set in warmer climates, but that isn’t the route this show has taken. Rather, the series has stuck to the story’s Scandi-noir-style roots in its filming style as well as its themes. Many scenes are set in bare, concrete rooms or on dark streets at night. Scenes set in a rural home in the countryside have been filmed on the dullest, windiest days of the Spanish year so that the cast can wear reasonably warm-looking clothing, though nothing quite as heavy as the iconic woollen jumper worn by Sarah Lund in The Killing.
Some other techniques have been used to call to mind colder, wetter stories as well. In the opening sequence, for example, Amaya is wearing a yellow hooded raincoat and asks her father for a red balloon. This immediately makes the viewer think of the recent adaptation of Stephen King’s IT, a story that also features crimes against children and that is set somewhat closer to the novel’s original setting, in Maine, in New England.