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Check It Out: The Department of Sensitive Crimes by Alexander McCall Smith


This is Kelsey Patterson with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out. Probably best known for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (which is one of my personal favorites), Alexander McCall Smith dives into a new mystery series set in Sweden in The Department of Sensitive Crimes. Dubbed “Scandi-Lite” by his publisher, this book doesn’t have the bleakness of Scandinavian noir, but it isn’t quite a cozy mystery either. In the Swedish criminal justice system, certain cases are considered especially strange, difficult, and annoying; the dedicated detectives who investigate these crimes are members of an elite squad known as the Sensitive Crimes Division. These are their stories. First in a new series, The Department of Sensitive Crimes tackles three “sensitive” crimes. The first case: the small matter of a man stabbed in the back of the knee. Next: the disappearance and suspected murder of an imaginary boyfriend. And the final investigation: various sightings (and hearings) of a possible werewolf at a spa in southern Sweden. Leading the crack team of investigators is Detective Ulf Varg, a sympathetic, well-educated and likeable man, with knowledge of and interest in Scandinavian and modern art.  Then there is Anna, who’s in love with Varg’s car (and possibly Varg too); Carl who lives to fill out paperwork, Erik who is deeply committed to fly fishing, and Blomquist from the uniformed branch, who goes on and on about his health problems but seems to have extraordinary luck in investigations. McCall Smith uses each case to highlight the complexities of human nature, including the foibles and heartaches of the investigators. He also perfectly sprinkles bits of comedic relief into the mystery when things start to get too heavy, making it the perfect book to curl up with on a blustery fall day. Check out The Department of Sensitive Crimes and other engaging mysteries like it at the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out comes from Avery Brothers.