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The Department of Sensitive Crimes

Detective Varg, Book 1
Narrated by: Saul Reichlin
Series: Detective Varg, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo introduced us to Scandi noir. Now, welcome to Alexander McCall Smith's world of Scandi blanc....

Ulf Varg works in Malmo's Department of Sensitive Crimes. Like all Scandinavian detectives he has his issues. In his 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, Marten, the only dog in Sweden (and possibly all Scandinavia) who is able to lip-read (in Swedish).

Along with his colleagues, Ulf is called upon to investigate a bizarre attack on a market trader, the disappearance of a handsome man who may or may not exist, and the affairs of a variety of young female students whose relationships with one another leave a great deal to be desired.

Ulf and his team come to realise that the world is a puzzling place, lycanthropy (werewolfism) exists and fish might have something to teach us. There is so much to learn if you are a Swedish detective, and in the first book in this new quasi-Scandinavian series, Ulf Varg embarks on these lessons with spirit and good humour.

©2019 Alexander McCall Smith (P)2019 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely loved it

Alexander McCall Smith never fails to write a lovely story. He's by far my favourite author. I always finish his books with a smile and a good feeling and this one was no exeption.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Simon
  • 03-14-19

A Charming Meander Leading Nowhere in Particular!

As a regular consumer of so-called Scandi-noir, I have to admit I was quite bewitched by this concept of Scandi-blanc and there's no doubt that McCall-Smith has pulled off something very much in that mode. His charming lead Ulf Varg and the rest are rather pleasant compared to our usual Nordic detectives and associates and Saul Rechlin matches that nicely with his narration.

There is a lovely, almost world-weary wisdom about Varg and co and you should be warned that they pontificate at length either singly or jointly on almost any subject without warning. Dogs learning to lip read was one of my favourites but there were plenty more. The plot, poor thing, does occasionally get a look-in and is sporadically given a lethargic prod to move it along between chats as various, minor crimes flitter towards being the centre of attention.

The book and its denizens definitely have a charm all of their own and I'm still smiling about the concept of Scandi-blanc. However, I have to admit a lot of this just washed over me making it an okay listen but not one that I had a very strong reaction to in any kind of way. It's worth a try I would imagine if you like nice gentle mysteries where the characters rather than the plot take centre stage but otherwise it's all a little insipid.

22 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Arabella
  • 03-29-19

best story and narrator ever

These are deceptively simple stories explaining complex human reactions. I was totally impressed with the narrative communication as wrll as the content.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs O
  • 07-01-19

Has potential

The set up has potential as do the characters but I did not find it to have the usual zing of Alexander Mccall Smith.

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  • Hes
  • 05-17-19

Lovely

Slow to get going but it just got better and better. Gentle stories of human nature.

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  • Mrs T Stobie
  • 04-01-19

ho hum

amusing, but a story line that is a little disjointed. almost as if it had been written to be shorter.

won't be back for more

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Janelle
  • 04-04-19

Very very very boring.

I just could not even get past the first few chapters . I am big fan of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency and was very disappointed.

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  • Paul irving
  • 03-23-19

rubbish!

McCall Smith has a flop. loved previous work, but this is poor, inane, smug rubbish!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful