The Department of Sensitive Crimes

by Alexander McCall Smith

Part of the Detective Varg Series

Literary Fiction Crime and Mystery

LoveReading Expert Review of The Department of Sensitive Crimes

Mystery, whimsy and charm abound in this first novel in a series of cosy Scandi crime.

The first in Alexander McCall Smith's Detective Varg series, The Department of Sensitive Crimes introduces readers to the whimsical delights of what might be termed “cosy Scandi crime” (Scandi noir it ain’t), with endearing philosophical musings on life, love, and human nature coming courtesy of detective Ulf Varg.

Working in Malmo's Department of Sensitive Crimes, Ulf makes for an utterly endearing, intriguing protagonist. As is often the way with detectives, he has his personal issues, but in Ulf’s case we’re not talking a dark past of addiction, difficult divorces, and strained relationships with estranged children. Rather, Ulf is a man who worries for the health of Martin, his beloved hearing-impaired dog. A man who’s somewhat irritated by one colleague as he moons after another (in a manner of speaking).

Within this glorious set-up, Ulf finds himself having to investigate the curious case of an attack on a market trader alongside the vanishing of an enigmatic chap who might not even exist. Dancing with top-notch dialogue, this novel excels at quirkily comic moments.

Joanne Owen

The Department of Sensitive Crimes Synopsis

The first book in Alexander McCall Smith's new Detective Varg series. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo introduced us to Scandi noir. Now, welcome to Alexander McCall Smith's world of Scandi blanc, where mysteries abound and there is still so much for a Swedish detective to learn.

Ulf Varg works in Malmoe's Department of Sensitive Crimes. Like all Scandinavian detectives, he has his issues. In this case, these include his unresolved feelings for his colleague Anna, his impatience over the seeming incompetence of his irritating colleague Blomquist and his concerns for the health of his hearing-impaired dog Martin, the only dog in Sweden (and possibly all Scandinavia) who can lip-read. Soon, Ulf and his colleagues find themselves investigating an attack on a market trader, the disappearance of a handsome man who may not exist and a group of students whose relationships leave a great deal to be desired. 

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780349143330
Publication date: 5th March 2020
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher: Abacus an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 272 pages
Primary Genre Literary Fiction
Other Genres:
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What To Read After The Department of Sensitive Crimes

To Cook a Bear
The Khan
The Daves Next Door
A Particular Friendship

Alexander McCall Smith Press Reviews

'McCall Smith's continuing warm-heartedness makes Ulf such unfailingly good company' - Reader's Digest

'While the crimes may be inconsequential, the conversations are fascinating . . . McCall's humour is usually described as gentle, but readers familiar with the rhythm of his writing will find plenty here to make them snort' - Independent i

'Wonderfully soothing and relaxing . . . while McCall Smith's world may be a highly selective reshaping of the real one, he has the creative power to make it seem, in its quiet way, truer than truth . . . it left me with a warm glow that lasted through several news bulletins' - Telegraph

'Heaven is in the detail with this sort of escapist writing. It's like AA Milne meets Karl Ove Knausgaard. McCall Smith knows how to create a world full of sweet things and emotionally true moments and in this new series of Scandi blanc delivers exactly what his fans will be hoping for' - Melissa Katsoulis - Financial Times

'Wonderfully soothing and relaxing; the books do not make you sit on the edge of your seat but sink deeper into your chair' - Telegraph, 'Best thrillers and crime fiction of 2019 so far'

'Alexander McCall Smith reached dizzying new heights of whimsy with his 'Scandi-blanc' experiment, The Department of Sensitive Crimes' - The Scotsman (Scottish Books of 2019)

'McCall Smith has a supreme talent for sketching truly likeable characters who are free to pontificate on all sorts of areas of interest . . . McCall Smith's humour is usually described as gentle, but readers familiar with the rhythm of his writing will find plenty here to make them snort' - Scotsman

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780349143330
Publication date: 05/03/2020
Format: Paperback

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About Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the highly successful No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has sold over twenty-five million copies. Since then he has devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become bestsellers throughout the world. These include the 44 Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in the Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series and the Corduroy Mansions novels. — New York Times Alexander McCall Smith, often referred to as ‘Sandy’,  ...

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