From The Sinner to The Fall and Sherlock to Wallander: The best detective series to watch now on Netflix

Pick your favourite super sleuth for a whodunit binge on Netflix, with everything from period detective dramas to modern-day crime sprees available to watch right now.

By Katie Archer Published: 24 May 2021 - 4.46pm
Netflix The Sinner Bill Pullman

Detective stories have a timeless appeal and are always a sure-fire hit with television viewers – so it’s no surprise that Netflix has plenty to choose from.

Gritty modern dramas take their place alongside period pieces and literary adaptations to make up the perfect library of whodunits.

Here’s our pick of the best detective series streaming now on Netflix.

Wallander

Kenneth Branagh in Wallander

If you missed this Nordic noir series when it first aired on the BBC, it’s definitely worth catching up with on Netflix.

Kurt Wallander is a disillusioned police inspector investigating a spate of murders in a once-peaceful province of Sweden.

The series stars Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hiddleston and runs for four compelling seasons.

All four seasons of Wallander are available on Netflix

Death in Paradise

Death in Paradise BBC

Sun-soaked crime series Death in Paradise has been through a number of incarnations, with Ben Miller, Kris Marshall and Ardal O’Hanlon all taking on the role of the ex-pat detective before the current incumbent, Ralph Little, arrived on Saint Marie.

The story is always that a jaded detective is shipped out to the Caribbean for a new career in island life, only to find that crime exists in paradise much as it does anywhere else in the world.

This is a gentle series as far as detective dramas go, but its episodic murder mysteries and entertaining sub-plots will soon have you hooked.

All 10 seasons of Death in Paradise are available on Netflix

Sherlock

Sherlock BBC

Benedict Cumberbatch’s most famous role in the Arthur Conan Doyle adaptation has justifiably gathered a cult following.

His interpretation of the super sleuth Sherlock brings the Baker Street stories into the modern day, with fast-paced plots, clever twists and a brilliant villain in the form of Andrew Scott as Moriarty.

Sherlock makes the perfect series for binge watching, whether you’re coming to it for the first time or rewatching it as an old favourite.

All 12 episodes of Sherlock are available on Netflix

Marcella

Marcella Buccaneer Media/ITV

ITV is known for its huge range of detective series, and Netflix has snapped up one of the most compelling – Marcella.

Anna Friel stars as the London murder detective who’s battling mysterious blackouts and some serious marriage woes.

Combining chilling murder cases with a great personal story for Marcella makes for an exciting series.

Seasons 1 & 2 of Marcella are available on Netflix

Unforgotten

Unforgotten ITV

It may have been a slow burn, but Unforgotten has cemented itself as a must-see detective series for ITV and now you can catch up on the first three seasons on Netflix.

Nicola Walker plays detective Cassie Stuart and Sanjeev Bhaskar is her literal partner in crime, detective Sunny Khan.

Unforgotten offers a slight twist on the genre as the pair concentrate on cold cases and unearthing long-buried secrets as they investigate London murders.

Seasons 1-3 of Unforgotten are available on Netflix

The Fall

The Fall BBC

One of the most talked about series on the BBC, The Fall is timelessly stylish and unbelievably chilling.

Starring Gillian Anderson as DS Stella Gibson who is locked in a tense game of cat and mouse with serial killer and rapist Paul Spector, played by Jamie Dornan, it contains some of the most disturbing scenes you’ll see in a drama series as well as Anderson at her absolute best.

Be warned, you’ll be sleeping with the lights on for years after seeing some of Spector’s terrifying home intrusions.

All three seasons of The Fall are available on Netflix

Hinterland

The cast of Hinterland BBC

Shrugging off the usual gritty London setting of UK detective dramas, Hinterland features a wild rural landscape instead.

A troubled detective (as is standard for the genre) leaves behind the streets of London and heads for the open skies of Welsh countryside.

But he soon discovers secrets are just as dark in a beautiful landscape as they are in the inner city.

All three seasons of Hinterland are available on Netflix

The Sinner

The Sinner Netflix

This detective series from Jessica Biel’s production company features Bill Pullman as the crime-fighting officer, with each series focusing on a single mysterious case.

Biel stars herself in the first series about a young mum who carries out a gruesome attack in broad daylight after being triggered by a ghost from her past.

Other series include missing people, cults and all manner of terrible secrets as Pullman’s Detective Harry Ambrose battles his personal demons to bring criminals to justice – and save their souls in the process.

All three seasons of The Sinner are available on Netflix

The Alienist

The Alienist Netflix

Detective series meets period drama in The Alienist, set in 1896 New York City.

A psychologist is enlisted by the police in the struggle to catch a killer who has been preying on homeless boys, but the doctor's tactics are completely new to the detectives he works alongside.

The strong cast includes Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning.

Both seasons of The Alienist are avilable on Netflix

Top of the Lake

Elisabeth Moss in Top of the Lake BBC

From Mad Men to The Handmaid's Tale, Elisabeth Moss never puts a foot wrong in choosing TV roles, so you can be sure that Top of the Lake is worth your time.

She plays  Australian detective Robin Griffin in the show, investigating the death of a pregnant 12-year-old in New Zealand in the first series and that of a woman found on Bondi Beach in the Sydney-set second, China Girl. Holly Hunter, Nicole Kidman and Gwendoline Christie are among the supporting cast.

Not only are the storylines rich and rewarding, the backdrop is absolutely stunning, but the whole programme - created and directed by The Piano's Oscar-winning director Jane Campion - deserves many more series than the two that were made.

Both seasons of Top of the Lake are avilable on Netflix

Baptiste

Tchéky Karyo as Julien Baptiste BBC

A spin-off from the hugely popular BBC thriller The Missing, detective Julien Baptiste, who featured in both original series, gets his own show here.

His backstory of a leg injury sustained while on duty and a daughter battling drug addiction made him the perfect character to develop into a starring role and although there’s only been one series of Baptiste so far, it does not disappoint.

Featuring Tom Hollander and Jessica Raine, the first season centres on a missing sex worker in Amsterdam and the seedy underworld that’s covering up the secrets of her disappearance.

Baptiste is available to watch on Netflix

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