17 March 2009

Review: THE GLASS DEVIL, Helene Tursten

Soho Press, ISBN 978-1-56947-489-1, 2003
Translated from Swedish in 2009 by Katarina E. Tucker, 2007, 311 pages.

Pillars of the community in a remote Swedish village, a pastor and his wife and their son, a teacher, are shot dead one night. The pastor has recently been investigating Satanism in his village, and all the signs are indicating that this may be a cult killing. It seems likely that the remaining member of the pastor's family, a daughter in London, may be in some danger and so the investigation takes Detective Inspector Irene Huss from Goteborg to England. When interviewing the daughter becomes difficult Irene feels that the Satanist clues are not really pointing to the answer. There are also suspects in the village, even amongst those who will take over from the pastor.

This is the third of Helene Tursten's Swedish police procedurals to be translated into English, and it will be a great pity if there are no more, which I believe at present may be the case. I believe there are another 5 Irene Huss novels not yet translated into English.

I don't think THE GLASS DEVIL is the strongest of the three we have seen so far. I'm not sure either about the opening Prologue and just how some of that fits in with the main story. There are patches that read a bit like a travelogue when Irene goes to London, but Irene Huss is such a strong, likeable character, that I do want to meet her again. However I do like the way Tursten weaves elements of 'ordinary' policing and family life into the plot. I also like the gruff and down to earth character of her boss Criminal Superintendent Sven Andersson.

My rating: 4.1
See review by Maxine Clarke for EuroCrime

My other reviews of Tursten novels:

Translated from Swedish in 2006. The story begins with the gruesome discovery of part of a human torso in a black plastic bag on a shoreline near Goteborg. Detective Inspector Irene Huss, whose superintendent suspects she is a magnet for killings, is one of the team called in to investigate. When they learn of a similar torso turning up 2 years earlier in Copenhagen, Irene is sent to liaise with the Copenhagen police. Her investigations reveal strong connections between communities in Sweden and Denmark. As people she visits seem to die shortly afterwards, it certainly appears her superintendent's joke has at least a grain of truth. Irene herself is targetted by someone who does not want the connections fully revealed. Some detailed descriptions will not suit the squeamish. Irene Huss is strong, level-headed, intuitive, highly principled, but sometimes fallible.

My rating 4.6

The first in the Irene Huss series. Originally titled in Swedish "The Broken Tang Horse". The Vicious Crimes Unit that Irene Huss is part of are investigating the death of a wealthy businessman who fell over 20 metres from the balcony of this apartment to the footpath below just as his wife and son arrived home and were getting out of their car.
The business man, Richard von Knecht, has recently celebrated his 60th birthday, and he and his wife Sylvia their 30th wedding anniversary. The building they live in is a fortress with their apartment on the top two floors and old friends living in apartments on other floors. Is it suicide? The day after his death, the building where his office was housed burns down, the result of an incendiary bomb, and Irene's Vicious Crimes Unit is investigating the connections. The book 'establishes' the character of Irene Huss: her physical endurance, her martial arts prowess, her family life, her chef/cook husband, teenage daughters, intuitive powers etc. There is an exploration of what it is that makes their 'team' work - the diversity of personalities and talents.
Translated into English by Steven T. Murray 2003. I read this after I had read a later book THE TORSO. I would recommend reading them in order.

My rating: 4.4

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Don't look now, but you've just received an award!


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