Sat 30 Apr 2011
HELENE TURSTEN – Detective Inspector Huss. Soho Crime, hardcover; 1st US printing, July 2003; trade paperback, May 2004. Originally published in Sweden as Den krossade tanghästen, 1998.
The original title in Swedish, if translated correctly, would be (I believe) The Broken Tang Horse. It was changed, I suspect, for two reasons. The first I won’t tell you, but I think the second was to more correctly focus on what this novel is about: namely Detective Inspector Irene Huss.
While portions of the book are told from the point of view of some of her fellow members of the Göteborg Homicide Division, most of this crime procedural novel is from hers. She’s in her forties, or so was my impression, happily married (her husband seems entirely comfortable with her career while he works as a chef), with two twin daughters in their early teens, one of whom decides halfway through the book to become a Skinhead and sing in a neo-Nazi rock band.
This causes some friction at home, to say the least, and it takes an Intervention dinner with one of Irene’s colleagues to shock some sense into her. Irene’s other problems include working too many hours, drinking too much coffee, eating too much pizza, and having violent encounters with the Swedish version of the Hell’s Angels.
The case itself, in this the first of which that have been recorded, is a major one and involves the death by falling of a wealthy businessman from the upper floor of his majestic palace of a home. Was it an accident? Suicide? Neither. It is quickly concluded that it was murder, and significantly over 350 pages of small print follow.
The story takes place near Christmas time, so the weather is cold, sloppy, dreary and cold, and the investigation is slow, methodical (plodding) but effective. But once again, the focus is on Detective Huss and the fellow members of her squad and their boss, Superintendent Sven Andersson, who is older and ill-equipped to manage the idiosyncrasies of detectives on his team, all well drawn and easily recognized as strong-willed individuals, both male and female.
The case itself, while multi-faceted and one that leads to all levels of Swedish society as well as several other deaths, is cracked by keeping tabs on a set of keys – who had extras made, who had access to them, and who had them.
It took me several evenings of spare time reading to steadily make my way to the end. I wasn’t caught up with this one as much as I have been with the Stieg Larsson books, but I’m looking forward to catching up with more of Detective Huss’s adventures, or at least I would be if more of them could be found translated into English. Only three of them have been, so far:
· 1998 – Den krossade tanghästen, English title: Detective Inspector Huss (2003)
· 1999 – Nattrond
· 1999 – Tatuerad torso. English title: The Torso (2006)
· 2002 – Kallt mord
· 2002 – Glasdjävulen. English title: The Glass Devil (2007)
· 2004 – Guldkalven
· 2005 – Eldsdansen
· 2007 – En man med litet ansikte
· 2008 – Det lömska nätet
· 2010 – Den som vakar i mörkret
[UPDATE] 05-01-11. I’ve just added the images you see above. For information on the Swedish television series based on the Inspector Huss books, see the comments.