"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.