Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Detective Inspector Huss ~ Helene Tursten
Irene Huss is called in to help investigate when an apparent suicide turns out to have been something more sinister. The victim, Richard von Knecht, rather than jumping from his balcony appears to have been helped on his way and the case only becomes more complex when there is a bomb blast at von Knecht's office and an explosion in the car of one of the chief suspects. When it becomes apparent that there is also a link through drugs to roaming gangs of Hells Angels the police team have to ask whether there is some wider criminal conspiracy going on, especially as all the family members who might have had reason to want von Knecht out of the way have what appear to be cast iron alibis.
I suspect that the reason I enjoyed this book so much more than many of the other Scandinavian novels I've tried is because it concentrates on the police rather than the victims or suspects. I felt I really got to know the officers concerned in a way that has not been the case with several other writers. In that respect, this is much more like a British crime novel. However, one thing that it does have in common with many other swedish novelists is an exploration of some of the social and political problems that beset the country. In particular this book considers the rise of the Nazi Party among Swedish youth and their denial of the Holocaust. It doesn't impinge on the case - it is one of Irene's daughters who becomes involved - but nevertheless, Tursten makes it clear that any impression we may have in the UK of Sweden as a haven of political neutrality and liberal minded thinking is little more than a fantasy.
As far as I can see there are two more Irene Huss books available with a fourth due later this year. If you want to try Swedish crime fiction without straying too far in style from what you're used to then I very strongly recommend you start here.