Monday, May 6, 2019

Review of Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten (1998, Swedish; 2003, English; Soho Crime)

Richard von Hecht, a rich businessman, falls to his death from his apartment balcony, landing a few yards away from his wife and son. The Göteborg police are called, but the initial prognosis is suicide. The preliminary investigation though indicates foul play and the police start the process of discovering the identity of the killer. Inspector Irene Huss is part of the team, a former national judo champion who is happily married with twin teenage daughters. Her instinct is that it's a family matter and the police’s probing reveals some skeletons in the closet, but a bombing exploding at the man’s office suggests that there might be more to the case. Attention is soon focused on a well-known local criminal and a chapter of Hells Angels, but their relationship to the family is not clear and everyone seems to have something to hide.

Detective Inspector Huss is the first in a ten book police procedural series set in Göteborg, Sweden. While the title focuses attention on Huss, the investigation into the death of a rich businessman is very much a team affair conducted by a set of inspectors under the guidance of a superintendent.  The story then is as much about the dynamics of the team and general police work as it is about solving the murder of Richard von Hecht. The case itself is a little bit of slow burner, gaining pace and tension as it unfolds as various elements are uncovered and those connected to the case manoeuvre to try and protect their interests. Tursten does a nice job of spinning in blinds and feints and keeping a number of potential suspects in the frame, revealing family secrets and adding in an intriguing connection to organized crime. The team-driven investigation and the realism and mundanity of the procedural elements and cop’s lives reminded me of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo’s Detective Martin Beck series. One thing that seemed a little odd is that the team seems to consist entirely of inspectors that are all frontline investigators with no lower ranked personnel seemingly involved; that jarred with the seeming realism otherwise. Also at times the prose was somewhat clunky; I’m not sure if that was a translation issue or a feature of the original text. Otherwise, this was an engaging and entertaining read and I intend to try the second in the series.


Todd Mason said...

I've seen and enjoyed a season or two of the IRENE HUSS television series, imported into the US by the small public network MHz Worldview, but haven't tried reading the books yet...look forward to that.

noirencyclopedia said...

I got perhaps a third of the way through this one and then put it aside because of the clunkiness-of-prose issue you mention. I'm interested to learn of the TV series through your comments, though, and will look out for it.