The Department of Sensitive Crimes

The Department of Sensitive Crimes Review

The Department of Sensitive Crimes is Scandinavian Blanc, vastly different from Scandinavian Noir. There is nothing noir about the world of Ulf Varg, Detective Inspector in the Sensitive Crimes Department of the Criminal Investigation Authority for the city of Malmö, Sweden. Ulf is concerned with odd, but not too threatening crimes, such as a stab wound to the back of the knee caused by an unknown hand, young women who allow their desperation for a boyfriend to get the better of them, and peculiar goings-on in a spa on Sweden's south coast.

Of course, Ulf is a Swedish detective, and Swedish detectives, by convention, lead lives beset with problems of one sort or another. For a start, there is his name: Ulf means “wolf” in modern Swedish, and Varg derives from the Old Norse word for “wolf”. But his character is far from vulpine: Ulf is a sympathetic, well-educated, and likeable man, with a knowledge of and interest in Scandinavian- and modern art. He has a dog named Marten, the only dog in Sweden capable of lip-reading (but only in Swedish). Martin becomes depressed and needs treatment. Dogs in Sweden are apparently particularly prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). But this is summer—so there must be something else going on.

Ulf has a number of colleagues into whose lives we gain insight. There is Anna, married to an anaesthetist, but very fond of Ulf; Erik, whose sole interest is fishing; Carl, whose father is a famous Lutheran theologian who has written a book on Danish philosopher Kierkegaard; then there is Blomquist from the uniformed branch, who goes on and on about his health problems but seems to have extraordinary luck in investigations. There is also Ulf's psychotherapist, Dr. Svensson, whose observations on Ulf's life—and many other topics—enlightens...or possibly confuses.

The Department of Sensitive Crimes is the first full-length novel in the Detective Varg series.

Title:The Department of Sensitive Crimes
Edition Language:English

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    The Department of Sensitive Crimes Reviews

  • Kylie D

    A strange little book, not unenjoyable, just a bit bizarre. We follow along with detective Ulf Varg and his team at the Department Of Sensitive Crimes in Sweden as they try to solve some curious cases...

  • Phrynne

    Please note that I am already one of this author's biggest fans!Another new series by Alexander McCall Smith and it starts well. He tries something slightly different this time and takes a gentle poke...

  • Carolyn

    A light and gentle read with McCall Smith's signature warmth and homespun philosophy. None of the 'sensitive' crimes passed on to the Department are very serious but are thoughtfully handled and resol...

  • Brenda

    The Department of Sensitive Crimes was an unusual police department. Run by head detective Ulf Varg, with Anna, Erik and Carl as his off siders, Ulf found himself working more with Anna than the other...

  • John Martin

    This was a really enjoyable read for me: quick, gentle, light, quirky with pockets of very funny humour.I've been a fan for some of the stripped-back writing that comes out of Scandinavia, and if the ...

  • Marianne

    The Department of Sensitive Crimes is the first full-length novel in the Detective Varg series by popular British author, Alexander McCall-Smith. And he’s having a lend of us, the reader. If that’...

  • Kasa Cotugno

    Nobody writes like Alexander McCall Smith. He has a formula, and this time he's transposed it to Scandinavia where, if fiction coming out in the past 20 years or so is to believed, corruption and mayh...

  • Juli

    I firmly believe every avid reader has a list of authors they really, really want to read....but never seem to get around to actually picking up a book. I know I'm guilty of this. I could probably lis...

  • Kirsty ??

    McCall Smith for me is a little bit like James Patterson; no matter how many different series they create you always know when you are reading one. They both have a bit f a unique style you can instan...

  • Jessica

    Smith, who first came to my notice writing gentle mysteries about a traditionally sized Botswanan lady detective, now turns his hand to one of my favorite genres: Scandinavian crime thrillers! Much mo...