THE PLAYING CARD KILLER on Netflix is a 3-part true crime documentary series from Spain (org. title: El asesino de la baraja). The true crime case features a serial killer. Read our full The Playing Card Killer docu series review here!

THE PLAYING CARD KILLER is a new Netflix docu-series with just three hour-long episodes. It’s a Spanish true crime documentary (org. title: El asesino de la baraja) about the serial killer that terrorized Spain in 2003.

The way this serial killer operated was like something straight out of a movie. However, the work done by the police – and the press, for that matter – is pretty horrific as well. Even politicians got involved in unsavory ways. After all, it was an election year!

Continue reading our The Playing Card Killer docu-series review below. Find it on Netflix from June 9, 2023.

A Spanish serial killer

As this is a true crime documentary that also features the trial and conviction of the said serial killer, I will be talking about the perpetrator here. However, trust me, this Netflix docu-series isn’t about the mystery. It’s very much about the actions of everyone involved.

The serial killer known as “The Playing Card Killer” is Alfredo Galán Sotillo. He killed six people and tried to kill three others. Actions that resulted in him being labeled as the first Spanish serial killer by some. He isn’t though, but the term serial killer isn’t that old.


I just had to look it up, so I might as well share what Wikipedia (yes, I know) says here >

What made his actions so scary – though obviously, all murders are terrible – was that he chose his victims randomly. No rhyme or reason of any kind. Also, he killed them with a pistol he illegally brought to Spain from Bosnia. He had been there with the Spanish Army on a humanitarian mission.

In this documentary series, we first cover the victims. And, I am pleased to report, the victims are very much a focus of this Netflix production. As are those who knew the victims. The victims are especially a focus via the media frenzy surrounding the search for this serial killer.

The Playing Card Killer – Review | Netflix True Crime Documentary Series

An impressive sentence – but it’s for show

Twenty years after he terrorized (and traumatized) the city of Madrid in 2003, Netflix is releasing a docu-series about the serial killer. Or rather, one of the most infamous. Especially due to the media frenzy which (understandably!) resulted in quite a bit of public hysteria.

The unique modus operandi of identifying his crimes with Spanish playing cards (in the suit of cups) was something that felt like a slap in the face of everyone; Victims, the police, and everyone living in or near the city of Madrid. The Capital – and most populous city – of Spain.

To be completely frank, the police had no clue who they were looking for. Not really. And their way of “narrowing down a suspect’s list” didn’t help much. In the final episode, this becomes eerily obvious.

That one moment made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Fortunately, for everyone, the serial killer turned himself in. Or did he? Not everyone is sure that Alfredo Galán is actually the serial killer. He does, however, get convicted. Just don’t let the impressive-sounding sentence fool you; The maximum he can serve in Spain is 25 years.

Watch The Playing Card Killer on Netflix

This new docuseries is directed by Amanda Sans Pantling (Songs of Redemption). It’s produced by those that brought us Where is Marta? which is another Netflix release that we reviewed here >

What I really liked about The Playing Card Killer docuseries was that it included interviews with virtually all the key figures of the events as they played out. From journalists and lawyers to survivors and some of the suspect’s closest family members and friends.

I especially want to highlight that this series incorporates new testimony from survivors. People who are rightfully claiming their place in the story. This includes their experience of the investigation – and how they were treated by investigators.

Don’t miss out on this one if you like seeing true crime depicted in a way where the victims are at the forefront, not just as a by-product mentioned in passing and then otherwise ignored.

The Playing Card Killer documentary series is on Netflix from June 9, 2023.


A playing card left at a murder scene connects a string of killings in this docuseries tracking a notorious serial killer who terrorized Spain in 2003.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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