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Friday, January 15, 2016

Night Rounds. Helene Tursten. Laura A. Wideburg (Translation) Soho Press (2012)

A very engaging and enjoyable Swedish police procedural. A nurse is killed in a small, private Swedish hospital and the only witness claims to have seen the hospital ghost doing her rounds at the time of the murder. Inspector Irene Huss is assigned to the case and has to try and establish what actually did happen at the hospital. When it becomes clear that a second nurse is missing the investigation becomes much more complicated. The investigation steadily uncovers a unexpected history that is linked to the hospital and to the ghost, that finally lead to a very well staged confrontation and happily unexpected conclusion.
Detective Irene Huss is a great lead character, thankfully Helene Tursten is willing to allow her to be a competent, capable police professional, surrounded by mostly, equally competent colleagues and with a stable home life. This means that the story can move comfortably between Irene Huss at work and home without any melodrama and with credible tensions in both that drive the story forward and engage the reader.
The supporting cast are equally engaging, they are all given the time and attention needed to get the readers attention and they emerge strongly in thier own right. None of them feel like plot devices, the action of the story involves them and is driven by them rather than the reverse.
Helene Tursten skillfully provides two sub plots , one professional and one personal that run neatly alongside the main story thread. The professional sub plot is concerned with sexual harassment at work and the way it is responded to on an organisational and a personal level. The event itself feels a little to staged, the ripples and consequences are very credibly and sharply described, the personal and professional trade-off that are revealed are relevant and make a forceful point without stepping outside the bounds of the story.The domestic events are handled with equal skill allowing for family dynamics that are complex and durable.
The plot mechanics for the main story thread are excellent, the investigation moves very thoughtfully and the reveals are very well staged. The reader is lead carefully from one possibility to another without being force fed plot points.
Laura A. Wideburg's translation is wholly transparent, the story is entirely Swedish and the language feels natural and direct. A very smart crime story, well worth reading.

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