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The Department of Sensitive Crimes

The Department of Sensitive Crimes

Large Print - 2019
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"The detectives who work in Malmo Police's Department of Sensitive Crimes take their job very seriously. The lead detective, Ulf Varg, prioritizes his cases above even his dog's mental health. Then there are detectives Anna Bengsdotter, who keeps her relationship with Varg professional even as she realizes she's developing feelings for him . . . or at least for his car, and Carl Holgersson, first to arrive in the morning and last to leave, who would never read his colleagues' personal correspondence--unless it could help solve a crime, of course. Finally, there's Erik Nykvist, who peppers conversations with anecdotes about fly fishing. Along with an opinionated local police officer named Blomquist, the Department of Sensitive Crimes takes on three extremely strange cases. First, the detectives investigate how and why a local business owner was stabbed . . . in the back of the knee. Next, a young woman's imaginary boyfriend goes missing. And, in the final investigation, Varg must determine whether nocturnal visitations at a local spa have a supernatural element. Using his renowned wit and warmth, Alexander McCall Smith brings a unique perspective on Scandinavian crime. Equal parts hilarious and heartening, The Department of Sensitive Crimes is a tour de farce from a literary master"--
Publisher: New York : Random House Large Print, [2019]
Edition: Large print edition.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781984847386
Characteristics: 308 pages (large print) ; 24 cm.
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bibliosara Mar 17, 2021

I've only read one other series by Alexander McCall Smith (and loved it!): The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Rather, I should say, that I am only reading that one other series, since I am only partially through the wonderfully lengthy series. In this newer series, McCall Smith introduces readers to Detective Ulf Varg (Wolf Wolf, translated), a detective in Malmo, Sweden's "Department of Sensitive Crimes" (a completely fictional department, by the way). Ulf lives with his sweet dog Martin, who is both deaf and a lip-reader. He works with his colleagues, including lovely but very much married Anna, to solve cases that are not as violent or distressing as those that cross the desks of detectives in other departments, but that nonetheless need solving. When a man is stabbed in the back of the knee, Ulf finds himself drawn into a confusing case of an odd injury and quirky suspects. Meanwhile, he reflects on the lives of those around him and on the general Swedish-ness of life in Malmo. Charming, with McCall Smith's usual charismatic qualities, The Department of Sensitive Crimes is a book worth reading: a reminder of the quiet dignity and joy of everyday life.

Nov 11, 2020

I think the book description does a good job describing what this book is about. I found this book to be hilarious and I really enjoyed. I think the characters are interesting, the story is easy to follow and not boring at all. There are a few funny moments and a couple of not so funny ones as well. As for the bizarre love story sub plot, I didn't care much for it. Would I personally own this book in my personal library? Probably not, but it is a fun book to read and to distract oneself.

Jun 28, 2020

Ulf Vlarg works in the elite Department of Sensitive Crimes along with Anna who loves a good witty remark, Carl who both Anna and Ulf agree worlds harder than anyone they’re ever met, and Erik who dreams of retiring and fishing for the rest of eternity. Together they tackle strange and difficult cases that the Swedish Criminal Justice System cannot solve. Ulf lives in Malmö with his dog Martin and we follow him as he investigates three strange cases involving a suspected werewolf, an imaginary boyfriend gone missing, and a stabbing in the back of the knee. With the help of annoying, obsessive policemen this team will crack these cases under the direct yet quirky writing style of Älexander Mcall.
This book is for people who love a good mystery, endearing characters, a couple interesting philosophical reflections, and some love sprinkled in on top. It is by no means a thriller or an action-packed book but instead a charming story encapsulating all things human. I’ve honestly never read anything like this before but was immediately delighted by it and it’s strong yet funny scenarios and characters. For all of that, I definitely recommend this book if you are drawn to anything I’ve talked about during this review and hope you love it as much as I do!

Apr 11, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed the book -- the gentle humour of Alexander McCall Smith shines through.

The setting initially made me curious (was this going to be a dark Scandinavian whodunnit?), but nothing in the least bit sinister happens here. An amusing concept to hive off the relatively mundane cases to the "sensitive crimes" section, staffed by Ulf, Carl, Anna and the fishing-obsessed clerk, Erik.

Feb 17, 2020

The cast of characters in this book are so much fun. There are moments when I laughed out loud. And then there are tender moments when Ulf is pondering philosophical questions. The mysteries the unit solves are almost beside the point, but provide just the right amount of intrigue. Looking forward to more pages of these delightful people!

IndyPL_SteveB Oct 20, 2019

This is the first book of a new mystery series set in Malmö, Sweden and, once you see where he is headed, a delightful one. Like other McCall Smith books, this deals with ordinary day-to-day problems, not murders. The focus is on characters and human observations.

Malmö’s police force has a special department for the odd cases that no one else wants to handle: The Department of Sensitive Crimes. The DSC has four team members, led by Ulf Varg, the depressed, divorced investigator with an extreme talent for observing people. Oddly, “Ulf” and “Varg” are both old Norse words for “wolf.”

The mysteries are really unimportant. There is a man who mysteriously has been stabbed in the back of his knee. There is a young woman who has invented an imaginary boyfriend to give her some status. When someone reports him missing, no one knows quite what to do. The appeal of the book is in the interactions between the main characters and in their conversations with the sad, odd, and confused human beings they run into every day.

It starts quietly, but at the end of the novel, I thought, “I want to read more about these people. I want to have *lunch* with these people.”

Aug 28, 2019

This first entry in a new series, set in a Swedish police department, was a relaxing and easy read. It is mainly concerned with a police detective’s inner musings about the world around him and his place in it – much the same as the musings in McCall-Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.
What makes the Ladies’ Detective Agency series so special is that the protagonist exhibits a sense of love for the natural world and for all mankind around her, and this philosophy is often the substance of conversations and interactions of those book’s characters. The conversations among the Sensitive Crimes protagonist and the other characters, however, are filled with digressions that amount to trivia – and that makes all the difference.
I look forward to reading the next (future) entry in this series and hope that the characters and their musings will develop from mere distractions into thought-provoking substance.

Aug 26, 2019

Sexist stereotypes of catty, jealous conniving young women and a “good” hero who’s in love with a married woman. Horrid.

This book took 5 years off of my life. It felt like the author was using the characters to discuss opinions he himself had (e.g., global warming, importance of sunscreen), which was exhausting to read because it added no value to character development (since the characters just acknowledged the statements and agreed with whatever was being said anyways) and had no point to the actual plot or "detective case". The book was filled with petty, childish "crimes"; excessive red herrings; build-ups that just deflated like a balloon; intolerable characters; and should hardly be called a crime mystery. The main character was nice to people he could not even stand, which seemed insincere and unrelatable to me. On the plus side, I would be happy to visit Sweden after reading this book because there clearly are no exciting crimes there worth noting.

Aug 06, 2019

I have greatly enjoyed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books over the years and this was in large measure due to the characters McCall-Smith created and developed in this series. He also had a very keen sense of place: Botswana and the Kalahari.
So I was very disappointed in the blandness of this new venture. Ulf Varg and his co-workers are neither interesting or evoctive. The setting is sterile and could have been anywhere. This author has for years shown that a slow pace and lack of fireworks are not necessary to good story telling. Unfortunately this one misses the mark.

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