THE TALENTED MR. VARG by Alexander McCall Smith


A Detective Varg Novel, Book 2

From the publisher:

In the second installment in the best-selling Detective Varg series, Ulf and his team investigate a notorious philanderer—a wolf of a man whose bad reputation may be all bark and no bite.
The Department of Sensitive Crimes, renowned for taking on the most obscure and irrelevant cases is always prepared to dive into an investigation, no matter how complex. So when the girlfriend of an infamous author who insists her bad-boy beau is being blackmailed approaches Ulf Varg, the department’s lead detective, Ulf is determined to help. It’s rather difficult to determine what skeletons hide in the hard-living lothario’s closet, though. And while Swedes are notoriously tolerant . . . well, there are limits. Even for the Swedish.

The case requires Ulf’s total concentration, but he finds himself distracted by his ongoing attraction to his co-worker, Anna, whose own fears about her husband’s fidelity are causing a strain on her marriage. When Ulf is also tasked with looking into a group of dealers exporting wolves that seem more canis familiaris than canis lupus, it will require all of his team’s investigative instincts and dogged persistence to put these matters to bed.

This is the second book in a series revolving around a Swedish police squad termed the Department of Sensitive Crimes; an agency that takes on cases that are irrelevant and nonsensible. They then work on them, running them into the ground and arriving at conclusions that fit the crime and provide a good amount of humor for the reader.

In this book, Ulf Varg (the name consists of two words both meaning wolf in Swedish) works on situations that involve the illegal sale of dogs as wolves to zoos and other buyers. He handles a case in which a lady indicates that her boyfriend (a noted second rate author) is being blackmailed, and provides information to a fellow police officer, a lady that he has a crush on about her suspicions that her husband is having an affair.

The cases are worked on by Varg and other members of his department, all of whom are misfits and obviously not indicative of real-life police officers. Conclusions are arrived at after a good deal of tongue in cheek banter by all concerned and a good time by the reader. McCall Smith’s book is not meant to be a deeply engrossing work but a well-done parody and a good time for all. There should be a separate category for this type of book other than a star rating since it is not meant as anything but a good comedy. Still, it is a novel that can be quite enjoyed by those readers interested in a departure and a captivating read.

4/2020 Paul Lane

THE TALENTED MR. VARG by Alexander McCall Smith. Pantheon (April 28, 2020). ISBN: 978-1524748968. 240p.



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