The Department of Sensitive Crimes

The Department of Sensitive Crimes

Book - 2019
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In the Swedish criminal system, certain cases are considered especially strange and difficult. In Malmö, the dedicated detectives who investigate these crimes are members of an elite squad known as the Sensitive Crimes Division. These are their stories. The first case: the small matter of a man stabbed in the back of the knee. Who would perpetrate such a crime and why? Next: a young woman's imaginary boyfriend goes missing. But how on earth do you search for someone who doesn't exist? And in the final investigation: eerie secrets which are revealed under a full moon may not seem so supernatural in the light of day. No case is too unusual, too complicated, or too insignificant for this squad to solve. The team: Ulf "the Wolf" Varg, the top dog, thoughtful and vigilant; Anna Bengtsdotter, who's in love with Varg's car (and possibly Varg too); Carl Holgersson, who likes nothing more than filling out paperwork; and Erik Nykvist, who is deeply committed to fly fishing. With the help of a rather verbose local police officer, this crack team gets to the bottom of cases other detectives can't or won't bother to handle.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, 2019
Edition: 1st US ed
ISBN: 9781524748210
Characteristics: 229 ; 25 cm

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IndyPL_SteveB Oct 20, 2019

This is the first book of a new mystery series set in Malmö, Sweden and, once you see where he is headed, a delightful one. Like other McCall Smith books, this deals with ordinary day-to-day problems, not murders. The focus is on characters and human observations.

Malmö’s police force has a special department for the odd cases that no one else wants to handle: The Department of Sensitive Crimes. The DSC has four team members, led by Ulf Varg, the depressed, divorced investigator with an extreme talent for observing people. Oddly, “Ulf” and “Varg” are both old Norse words for “wolf.”

The mysteries are really unimportant. There is a man who mysteriously has been stabbed in the back of his knee. There is a young woman who has invented an imaginary boyfriend to give her some status. When someone reports him missing, no one knows quite what to do. The appeal of the book is in the interactions between the main characters and in their conversations with the sad, odd, and confused human beings they run into every day.

It starts quietly, but at the end of the novel, I thought, “I want to read more about these people. I want to have *lunch* with these people.”

g
gomez7
Aug 28, 2019

This first entry in a new series, set in a Swedish police department, was a relaxing and easy read. It is mainly concerned with a police detective’s inner musings about the world around him and his place in it – much the same as the musings in McCall-Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.
What makes the Ladies’ Detective Agency series so special is that the protagonist exhibits a sense of love for the natural world and for all mankind around her, and this philosophy is often the substance of conversations and interactions of those book’s characters. The conversations among the Sensitive Crimes protagonist and the other characters, however, are filled with digressions that amount to trivia – and that makes all the difference.
I look forward to reading the next (future) entry in this series and hope that the characters and their musings will develop from mere distractions into thought-provoking substance.

s
sanru13
Aug 26, 2019

Sexist stereotypes of catty, jealous conniving young women and a “good” hero who’s in love with a married woman. Horrid.

This book took 5 years off of my life. It felt like the author was using the characters to discuss opinions he himself had (e.g., global warming, importance of sunscreen), which was exhausting to read because it added no value to character development (since the characters just acknowledged the statements and agreed with whatever was being said anyways) and had no point to the actual plot or "detective case". The book was filled with petty, childish "crimes"; excessive red herrings; build-ups that just deflated like a balloon; intolerable characters; and should hardly be called a crime mystery. The main character was nice to people he could not even stand, which seemed insincere and unrelatable to me. On the plus side, I would be happy to visit Sweden after reading this book because there clearly are no exciting crimes there worth noting.

s
steveslake
Aug 06, 2019

I have greatly enjoyed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books over the years and this was in large measure due to the characters McCall-Smith created and developed in this series. He also had a very keen sense of place: Botswana and the Kalahari.
So I was very disappointed in the blandness of this new venture. Ulf Varg and his co-workers are neither interesting or evoctive. The setting is sterile and could have been anywhere. This author has for years shown that a slow pace and lack of fireworks are not necessary to good story telling. Unfortunately this one misses the mark.

j
Jenkskitten
Jul 12, 2019

Three major mysteries to be solved by the Department of Sensitive Crimes leads the reader to an enjoyable read and crime deduction. Could have skipped the infatuation between all the main characters.

4
49Chandra19B
Jun 24, 2019

Wasn't sure when I started but ended up loving this book. AMS has the ability to create very human characters that have to make difficult ethical decisions but ultimately always make the right choices. Fun, whimisical highly readable book. If you are an AMS fan I am sure you will enjoythe department of sensative crimes.

d
dougslater
Jun 23, 2019

I was not able to connect with this story, as is often the case with his stand alone novels. Just didn't work for me.

k
KatherineHere
Jun 21, 2019

Civil servants trying to walk a narrow line in the NWO.

m
mrsmeyer618
Jun 17, 2019

I am such a big fan of AMS, that I will read anything he puts out and I will definitely be reading the next installment of Detective Varg.
Keep in mind, this is a farce, so the story line veers into silliness a time or two but the characters are absolutely lovable. The ending was just a tiny bit disappointing (as in far fetched) but the three different plot themes woven loosely together make a wonderful beach or travel read for the summer.

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