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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten

26. – 658.) Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten (1998) – The first in the series is an impressive debut novel though it did lag abit at the end as I thought it did not need to extend to 371 pages.

D.I. Huss, closing in on 40, is an experienced police office in Göteborg, Sweden. She enjoys the loving support of her husband, Krister, and her twin 13 year old girls, Jenny and Katarina.

A dreary November day becomes dramatic when Richard von Knecht smashes into the pavement below his luxury apartment. Sylvia, his wife of 30 years, and his son, Henrik, almost witness the fall arriving in a car moments after Richard’s death. The police immediately form a large team to investigate the death of the wealthy and prominent von Knecht.

Having just turned 60 I reflected alittle more on the death of a victim who has just celebrated his 60th birthday.

A sense of the marriage of Richard and Sylvia comes from the oft used expression in the book that it has been the Thirty Years War.

The detectives are more than alittle awe struck as they search the almost antiseptic apartment featuring the combined smells of javex and cigars. Every likely spot for fingerprints has been wiped clean by the powerful cleaner.

Superintendent Andersson is in charge of an often fractious team. He keeps some order while fairly providing assignments to all the members of the team.

The relationships between the detectives felt real. It is an era when female detective inspectors are not yet common. Sexist remarks are frequent at the police station.

The investigation is painstaking. There are no highly dramatic discoveries. The detectives keep assembling evidence as they carefully sort through the lives of the von Knecht family.

While they are shocked by Henrik’s death it is hard to find a family member who actually mourns Richard’s passing. Henrik and Sylvia look forward to the millions of kroner that will flow their way.

There is a haunting episode where Huss interviews a young man dying of AIDS in a hospice. It evoked memories of my representation, starting in 1991, of hemophiliacs and blood transfused who were all infected with HIV. Most of my clients died of AIDS. Each one died hard.

I liked that Huss went home each night to an average family. Her girls are not perfect. Jenny impulsively becomes a skinhead dating a neo-Nazi and aspiring to play in a skinhead band.

I was intrigued and impressed by Huss being a judo champion. At the same time I found some of the references to judo expressions puzzling. The phrases in English did not always fit.

The nasty wet cold weather persists through the book. My older son, Jonathan, lived near Göteborg for a year. He recalled getting depressed when he did not see the sun for a month. I am going to see if agrees with Göteborg being nicknamed “Soaking-borg”.

It is not really a suspenseful mystery as the pool of suspects is so small but Tursten does a good job of building tension through the book. It is a very good police procedural which I enjoyed. Huss is a strong character about whom I want to learn more in further books. (May 13/12)


  1. Bill - I'm so glad you enjoyed this first in the series. I hope you'll like the rest of them. I too was moved by that scene at the hospice. It stays with one and I can see why it would stay with you in particular. And I agree 100% about how refreshing it is that Huss and her husband have a decent marriage and loving children. They're not perfect (but it would really be annoying if they were I think) but they aren't stereotypically dysfunctional either.

  2. I'm very fond of the Irene Huss series, and am glad you enjoyed it too. I remember a very beautiful, poetic passage about the AIDS patient, and another one, too, about Sylvia. But, as you write, most of the book is quite pragmatic. I agree with your criticisms of it, it is too long and, as with so many other Swedish crime novels one feels that the author has kind of lost interest in the solution to the crime but is more interested in the story.

    It is also interesting what you write about the translation as this is a US edition (there is no English publisher/translation) so I presume from your comments that US English translates to Canada about as well as it does to England!

    I'm also pleased that Soho changed the cover - this is quite a good cover but the cover on the version I have is truly drab & dreadful.

    By the way, the second (translated) novel, The Torso, is the strongest of the series, I think.

  3. Unknown: Thanks for the comment. I think more writers could benefit with putting functional families in crime fiction.

  4. Maxine: Thanks for commenting. Length has not made crime fiction better for me. I thought the cover was very effective and will be mental image going forward of Inspector Huss.

  5. I have the latest Tursten book, 'Night Rounds' to read and I'm hoping I'll be able to join the series without having read the earlier books. I'm looking forward to it.

  6. Sarah: Thanks for the comment. I also have Night Rounds to read. I think it is actually the second in the series. I prefer to space out reading an author so it will be awhile before I get to it.

  7. I've always been curious about this author and have the first book. I think I will go ahead and give her a shot. Thanks for the review. --Keishon

  8. Keishon: Thanks for the comment. I was equally curious and glad when I actually read Detective Inspector Huss.