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The Department of Sensitive Crimes

#1 Detective Varg

Alexander McCall Smith



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Little Brown
12 March 2019
Series: Varg
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Trust the prolific McCall Smith to subvert Scandi noir into Scandi blanc! Detective Ulf Varg deals with the sort of complicated investigations local police departments may not have the resources for. He and his colleagues get referrals for an assortment of cases, and in this delightfully low-key novel, they have to deal with an unusual stabbing, young women who are not as good as friends as they like to pretend, and incompetent superiors; as well Ulf has a hearing-impaired dog with depression to worry about, and inappropriate feelings for his female colleague. No wonder he needs to talk to his doctor on a regular basis! As with all McCall Smith's books there is a sympathetic undertone, and great understanding of the complicated human heart. Wise, warm and charming - hopefully there will be more novels featuring Varg! Lindy Jones


Mister Varg is a Sandinavian Blanc novel. Scandinavian Blanc is different from Scandinavian Noir: there is nothing noir about the world of Ulf Varg, a detective in the Sensitive Crimes Department in the Swedish city of Malmo. Ulf is concerned with very odd, but not too threatening crimes - injuries to the back of the knee caused by an unknown hand, young women who allow their desperation for a boyfriend to get the better of them, and peculiar goings-on in a spa on Sweden's south coast.

Of course, Ulf is a Swedish detective, and Swedish detectives, by convention, lead lives beset with problems of one sort or another. For a start, there is his name: Ulf derives from the Old Norse word for wolf and Varg means wolf in modern Swedish. But his character is far from vulpine: Ulf is a sympathetic, well-educated, and likeable man, with a knowledge of and interest in Nordic art. He has a dog called Marten, the only dog in Sweden who is capable of lip-reading (but only in Swedish). Martin becomes depressed and needs treatment. Dogs in Sweden are, apparently, particularly prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder. But this is summer - and there must be something else going on.

Ulf has a number of colleagues into whose lives we gain an insight. There is Anna, married to an anaesthetist, but very fond of Ulf; there is Erik, whose sole interest is fishing; Carl, whose father has written a book on the Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard; and there is poor Blomquist, from the uniformed branch, who goes on and on about health issues but who seems to have extraordinary luck in investigations. There is also Ulf's psychotherapist, Dr Svensson, whose observations on Ulf's life - and many other topics - enlightens - or possibly confuses.

THE DEPARTMENT OF SENSITIVE CRIMES introduces us to the world of this typically Scandinavian character and his friends and colleagues. Further adventures are planned.
By:   Alexander McCall Smith
Imprint:   Little Brown
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   300g
ISBN:   9781408711255
ISBN 10:   1408711257
Series:   Varg
Pages:   240
Publication Date:   12 March 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Alexander McCall Smith is the author of over eighty books on a wide array of subjects, including the award-winning The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. He is also the author of the Isabel Dalhousie novels and the world's longest-running serial novel, 44 Scotland Street. His books have been translated into forty-six languages. Alexander McCall Smith is Professor Emeritus of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and holds honorary doctorates from thirteen universities.

Reviews for The Department of Sensitive Crimes (#1 Detective Varg)

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 * 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) * 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' * 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 . . . 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 * 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 * Unfailingly good company * Readers Digest * McCall Smith's continuing warm-heartedness makes Ulf such unfailingly good company * Reader's Digest *

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