Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Review: Detective Inspector Huss, Helene Tursten

Soho Press, Inc., 2003. ISBN 1-56947-303-X, 371 pages. Translated by Steven T. Murray. First published in Sweden in 1998.

Detective Inspector Huss is the first of three books featuring Irene Huss of the Violent Crimes Unit in Goteborg, Sweden. Huss is at the scene of an apparent suicide. The body of wealthy financier, Richard von Knecht, hit the sidewalk below his apartment just as his wife and son arrived by car. The Violent Crimes Unit quickly determines that it could not have been a suicide and begin their look for a motive and suspects.

I found this book slow going at first and it took two attempts to finish it. In the end, though, I fond it a satisfying procedural, enough so that I want to read the next two books in the series. In addition to the police work at the core of the story, Tursten works incorporates the sexist treatment of the female detectives in spite of their obvious competence. It will be interesting to see if this continues in subsequent books.

Huss is married to a chef and they have twin daughters. Tursten shows the reader how Huss tries to balance her home and professional lives without letting it take over the story. When one of the twins becomes a skinhead, Tursten uses it to describe the neo-nazi attitudes among young Swedes. This plot line seemed to get wrapped up a bit too neatly and quickly but was still interesting.

Tursten also gives a look at how minority nationalities are treated in Sweden. One of the members of the Unit is Finnish. From the comments directed to and about him you get the impression that there isn't full acceptance of Fins. This is interesting considering that Finnish and a dialect of Finnish are official minority languages in Sweden.

This is a solid police procedural that I enjoyed despite a slow start. I'm not well read in Scandinavian crime fiction but I would think this book would be listed as core reading.