I know I'm in a minority of crime fiction readers. This was my first novel by Alexander McCall Smith. And, unless I receive another one to review, The Department of Sensitive Crimes will be my last. The slow pace, and the story in which very little happens, is just not for me. I know others love his books, though, so don't let my comments dissuade you from starting this first in a new series.
Ulf Varg (Wolf Wolf in Swedish) heads up a small unit, the Sensitive Crime Department of the Malmo Criminal Investigative Authority in Sweden. He has two colleagues and a clerical assistant. Varg sees their purpose as "to bring to the surface the things that are below the surface". While they're in the office, they have the time to wax philosophical, discussing Kierkegaard, Freud, Kant, and even Odysseus' dog. When they receive notification about an unusual case, Varg and his colleague, Anna Bergsdotter, handle it. The first case involves a vendor who was stabbed behind the knee.
Although a local police officer, Blomquist, drives Ulf nuts, in case after case, his rambling conversation provides the clue that reveals the culprit. The three cases in this book come up again and again. There's the stabbing, a case of a young woman who invents a boyfriend, who is subsequently reported missing, and a low-key investigation of a spa that is losing business.
As I said, the slow pace and the rambling conversations aren't for me. However, I can appreciate some of the dry humor in the book. "All suspects should be given the chance to telephone their lawyers or their mothers, and it would not be surprising if they chose to call their mothers. After all, your mother is far more likely to believe in your innocence than your lawyer."
I'll be interested to read some of the other comments or reviews of the first Detective Varg novel, The Department of Sensitive Crimes.
Alexander McCall Smith's website is https://www.alexandermccallsmith.com
The Department of Sensitive Crimes by Alexander McCall Smith. Pantheon Books, 2019. ISBN 9781524748210 (hardcover), 240p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.