THE DEPARTMENT OF SENSITIVE CRIMES by Alexander McCall Smith

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A Detective Varg Novel, Book 1

The novel is set in Malmo, Sweden and describes the activities and antics of a small group of policemen that have been set up to handle sensitive crimes that are strange and different. It is wrapped around a series of vignettes that are handled by the group.

Smith brings to bear a droll sense of humor that takes situations and shapes their form via a definite tongue in cheek delivery. No murder, no bank holdups, no mob beatings but a series of “crimes” adroitly handled by the members of the squad.

There is a case of someone stabbing another person in the knee. Why? What caused this heinous crime? A lonely girl trying to impress other girls who have boyfriends makes up a boyfriend via taking a selfie with a young man she meets on the street. Then in order not to produce him, tells a tale of him moving to a facility at the north pole. Problem is the police work on the premise that he was murdered and the girl making him up is the murderer.

Finally, an investigation is requested by a police executive into the weird goings on at a hotel that his cousin owns. These happenings are causing the hotel to begin failing. This one leads via a circuitous route into investigations of a werewolf being the cause of what is going on at the hotel.

A free and easy read. The characters are likable with a dedicated man in charge. One woman working for the group who is more than a little in love with Ulf (the man in charge of the group). Carl who loves filling out paperwork and can sit and do that all day, and Erik whose main interest in life is fly fishing. While the setting is in Sweden the group can exist anywhere and do supply a great deal of fun in a nice departure from more serious police procedural novels. I certainly look forward to learning about future escapades of this pleasant group of policemen.

4/19 Paul Lane

THE DEPARTMENT OF SENSITIVE CRIMES by Alexander McCall Smith.  Pantheon (April 16, 2019). ISBN 978-1524748210. 240p.

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