SURELY any incident demanding police intervention is sensitive, Detective Ulf Varg’s fellow law-enforcement officers reason. This much is self-evident. Why, then, should a select few cases be singled out to receive special attention from an independent team within the force?
This is the question that shadows Varg as he battles to focus his mind in equal measures clearly on the job and firmly off his attractive married colleague Anna. The two are at the core of ‘sensitive’ investigations in Malmö, Sweden’s southernmost city and home to more than just the occasional curious offence.
Ulf Varg – a man whose given and family names mean ‘wolf’ ‘wolf’ in Swedish and Danish respectively – heads a department tasked with investigating the unexpected, the unorthodox and the just plain kooky – and none is more left-field than the latest baffler: the stabbing of a market stallholder in the back of one knee. Stabbing, yes – but midway down the leg? What sort of criminal would stoop – literally – to do such a nonsensical thing?
Solving this mystery will require Varg and his colleagues to set aside conventional thinking.
For Varg this is hardly a challenge; he is, after all, the owner of Sweden’s first and only lip-reading dog.
However, throw in commercial sabotage on the back of infidelity and the disappearance of an imaginary boyfriend and the workload for Varg and his new offsider Blomquist suddenly starts to look all-consuming.
From the king of lighthearted quirk comes this debut title in a new series of feel-good fun and frivolity, defined by author McCall Smith himself as being the antithesis of deep, dark, brooding Nordic noir: a new genre labelled ‘Nordic blanc’.
The Department of Sensitive Crimes contains a preview of the planned follow-up, The Talented Mr Varg. Two novellas published exclusively as Kindle editions – The Strange Case of the Moderate Extremists and Varg in Love – are prequels.