The Department of Sensitive Crimes (Detective Varg Series #1)

The Department of Sensitive Crimes (Detective Varg Series #1)

by Alexander McCall Smith

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The Department of Sensitive Crimes (Detective Varg Series #1) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I chuckled all the way through this inventive story - always good to have a laugh or two, even if the wistful feelings of the protagonists sincerely reflect our own nobler human instincts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Look forward to more of Ulf Varg.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
The Department of Sensitive Crimes is the first full-length novel in the Detective Varg series by popular British author, Alexander McCall-Smith. And he’s having a lend of us, the reader. If that’s not obvious from the title and the characters, then the cases they deal with should confirm it. Those characters, though, do give him enormous scope for insightful observations and wise words. The DoSC consists of Carl (incredibly conscientious), Erik (obsessed by fishing), Ulf (kind and sensitive and in impossible love with his married colleague), Anna. The annoyingly enthusiastic but less than competent Officer Blomquist also lends a hand. And let’s not forget Martin, Ulf’s deaf, depressed, lip-reading dog, Mrs Hogfors, his neighbour and Dr Svensson, his therapist. The cases, passed on from Malmö’s Criminal Investigation Authority because they are slightly unusual, are also a rich source of material for philosophical discussion: an unwitnessed stabbing in the back of a knee; a missing boyfriend who’s imaginary; and a possible werewolf. As Ulf and his team carry out their investigations, they are extremely prone to heading off on (often amusing) tangents during questioning. All are successfully resolved, but not without much deep discussion of the behaviours encountered. McCall Smith’s characters discuss, debate and ponder topics as diverse as imaginary friends, politically correct terminology for small people, the canine environmental footprint, osmotic knowledge, vegan objection to pets and whether the obsessed can be happy. When Ulf muses on gentlemanly behaviour, it’s very pertinent to the current “me too” cases: “...although he knew that nobody talked about being a gentleman any more, the concept still existed somewhere under the burden of the new language of relationships, the language that stressed self-determination and personal space. That was not all that different from the code of gentlemanly conduct that had previously prevented men from inappropriate conduct in their relations with women. The things that men were now supposed not to do were precisely the things that gentlemen were not meant to do anyway - so what was the difference? Were we simply becoming old-fashioned again, as societies tended to do when they saw the consequences of tearing up the behavioural rule book?” While it sounds like a crime novel, McCall Smith describes it as Scandi Blanc (as opposed to Scandi Noir) and anyone who is reading his work for the crime aspect has the wrong end of the stick: McCall Smith’s crime books are an exercise in examining human behaviour and the gentle philosophy which that inspires. Delightfully tongue-in-cheek.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Alexander McCall Smith must be a delightful person to know. He is able to inhabit so many cultural worlds in a gentle and charming fashion. The reader may think that nothing much happens in this slight parody of an homage to Swedish etective fiction, but it is in its own way highly memorable with vivid characters and Swedish atmosphere to burn, from cuisine to psychological sketches.
Anonymous 7 months ago
suekitty13 More than 1 year ago
The Department of Sensitive Crimes had everything I expect from an Alexander McCall Smith book: Quirky characters, ridiculous situations, lovable characters, good natured humour, a few life lessons and a lot of heart. The story was utterly charming. The several cases that the Department examined were unusual and were all solved in the course of this book. I’m not sure if this will be a series or not but it probably should be. There are no cliff-hangers and everything felt complete but I can’t help but hope there are more sensitive crimes to be investigated in the future. This isn’t an action packed story by any means. It is more about the relationships and thoughts of the characters. There is a lot of talking, mostly about nothing. In that respect it reminded me of Seinfeld which is often referred to as a show about nothing in particular. The characters are what are important and the plot is just a vehicle to let them shine. That isn’t to say that the story wasn’t compelling, because I found it engaging, but don’t expect shootouts or dead bodies. There is one werewolf chase in the dark but for the most part this is a quiet type of book. It’s also a feel good book that will leave you with restored faith in humanity. This author never lets me down when I need a positive to counteract all the negative in life. This is the definition of cozy and I’m ready to curl up with more! Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and Knopf Canada for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.