In Louisiana’s bayou country, a young detective with a scruffy beard and a weathered old detective are talking about cellphone ring tones.

“Do your home phone ring with a song?” the old fellow asks.

“I don’t have a home phone,” says the young one.

The old one says what he’d like in a ring tone: “For me, how about ‘ring, ring, hello.’ ”

This kind of dialogue sounds as if it sprang from the mind of a quirky southern writer. But it’s 100 percent real, spoken in the new six-episode Discovery Channel program “Killing Fields” (premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday).

Billed as the network’s first true-crime series and no doubt inspired by the success of the podcast “Serial,” “Killing Fields” probes a cold case where the body was found in a Louisiana “killing field” — defined by the show as “a location where a body can go undetected due to geography and where natural elements erase all evidence of a crime.”

But the show isn’t just a “Serial” wannabe. Guided by executive producers are Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson and Emmy winner Tom Fontana (who previously collaborated on the NBC series “Homicide”), “Killing Fields” unfolds like a southern gothic novel. Its cameras follow a 2015 investigation into the unsolved murder of graduate student Eugenie Boisfontaine, who went missing in 1997 and whose badly decomposed body was found three months later. Ms. Elizabeth was the one who discovered the body one fine Louisiana morning:

“She smelled really sweet. Animals are a bit muskier. I don’t know why, God just made us smell a little bit sweeter. It’s an ugly smell but it’s sweet.”

The visuals are a bit cliched yet haunting: twisted tree trunks, a ghostly white bird, a ramshackle bar near the spot where the body was found.
The aging detective is 30-year veteran Rodie Sanchez, retired but reinstated to see if old-fashioned sleuthing and newfangled DNA tests can finally finger the killer. As he puts it, “There’s nothing like catching a murderer.” And there’s nothing like watching a grizzled old pro and a ring-tone-loving newbie do their work in the killing fields of Louisiana.

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