A 30-year-old missing person case lands on Inspector Ingo Thiel’s desk. After the disappearance of 15-year-old Sven, his desperate parents continued to receive letters from various European countries from a stranger who made them believe that their son was still alive and traveling the world.

Suddenly, after decades, new letters arrive again. The “cold case” is getting hot again. And Thiel realizes that the case never left his long-retired predecessor Dennert (Manfred Zapatka). But who torments the parents of the missing person with such letters? And why couldn’t the perpetrator be caught? With “Letters from Beyond” – on Monday (April 15th) at 8:15 p.m. on ZDF – an exciting, fifth Lower Rhine crime thriller has been achieved. It premiered on Arte in October 2023.

In the landscape of the Lower Rhine, which has been marked by lignite mining, Thiel gradually realizes that the investigators back then were following the wrong hypothesis. The fact that Sven was last seen near a gay meeting place was perhaps just a coincidence.

Again the film follows a true story. Heino Ferch plays Ingo Thiel again, the real Inspector Thiel acts as an expert advisor for the television films. This time the director was Niki Stein.

Various narrative strands, which only come together at the end to form an overall picture, build tension. What does a convicted violent criminal in prison and what does a cleaning lady in Cologne-Chorweiler have to do with the matter?

Tensions among the investigator duo

In addition, Winnie, the quasi-assistant at Thiel’s side, is on the move to the State Criminal Police Office and the investigator duo is about to split up professionally. Tensions arise.

A profiler determines that the new letters probably come from the old sender. Using a mail distribution center, it is gradually possible to narrow down the sender. His name is Chris. But why can’t anyone find Chris in Sven’s environment back then?

The disappearance of ten-year-old Mirco on the Lower Rhine was made known by Mönchengladbach investigator Ingo Thiel. The first Thiel film was about the nationally publicized murder in 2010, which the real Thiel was able to solve after months.

The second case took place in Duisburg and was about the mafia murders there in 2007, in which it was not Thiel, but Heinz Sprenger from Duisburg who was in charge as the investigator. The third case traced the case of 14-year-old Nele, who disappeared after swimming training.

The fourth film (“Where’s My Sister?”), again based on a true story, was about the disappearance of the pretty twin sister Amelie and her well-kept secrets.

Down to earth and realistic

“Letters from the Beyond” takes the investigators to the edge of the massive brown coal opencast mines in the Lower Rhine, where villages and village communities have now disappeared.

In contrast to its predecessor, the film remains pleasantly down-to-earth, realistic and without any excursions into the supernatural. This makes it exciting and invites you to get excited and puzzle along. It almost seems as if consultant Thiel wrote the script himself.