26 March 2012

Review: NIGHT ROUNDS, Helene Tursten

  • Originally published in Swedish as Nattrond in 1999. 
  • Published in English translation by Soho Press 2012, translated by Laura A. Wideburg
  • 326 pages
  • Source: my local library
  • ISBN 978-1-61695-006-4
Synopsis (Amazon)

Irene Huss is a former Ju-Jitsu champion, a mother of twin teenage girls, the wife of a successful chef, and a Detective Inspector with the Violent Crimes Unit in Goteborg, Sweden. And now she’s back with a gripping follow-up to Detective Inspector Huss.

One nurse lies dead and another vanishes after their hospital is hit by a blackout. The only witness claims to have seen Nurse Tekla doing her rounds, but Nurse Tekla died sixty years ago. Detective Inspector Irene Huss of the Violent Crimes Unit has the challenge of disentangling wandering ghosts and complex human relationships to get to the bottom of this intriguing case.

My take

This is #2 in the Irene Huss series, published out of order in English.

Criminal Inspector Irene Huss is a member of the Violent Crimes Unit in Goteborg, Sweden, so NIGHT ROUNDS is a police procedural with a Swedish flavour. 

The Lowander Hospital is a small private hospital run by Dr. Sverker Lowander, a family business inherited from his father. It has a very small number of rooms, although it has an operating room, but at nights and weekends is managed by only 2 or 3 staff. When the blackout occurs in the middle of the night there are 2 nurses on duty and one doctor. The blackout triggers the failure of a respirator in the ICU room and the generator fails to kick in. The ICU nurse is missing and is later found dead.

NIGHT ROUNDS has some interesting plot strands: the murder of one nurse on the blackout night, the disappearance of another, the appearance of a ghost, the relationships between members of the Violent Crimes Squad, and Irene's family which consists of twin 14 year old daughters and a chef husband. the Squad works in small teams, each focussing on particular enquiries and reporting back to the main group at the beginning and ending of the day.

I found the style a little unusual, and couldn't quite work out whether this was the result of Tursten's writing style or the translation. It is a very direct style of writing, not much adornment, and shortish sentences, with economy in description. There were some peculiarities of expression like the constant references to "morning prayers", the meeting of the Crimes Squad at the beginning of each day. I have seen this used in other crime fiction works, but not as commonly as this novel seems to imply.

And yet, I think NIGHT ROUNDS is good reading if you like police procedurals (which I do). The plot is inventive, well supplied with red herrings, and there feels to be plenty of local colour. And I do like the character of Irene Huss.

My rating: 4.4

The order of the series (courtesy EuroCrime)
Inspector Huss, Gothenburg
Detective Inspector Huss20031
• Night Rounds20122
The Torso20063
The Glass Devil20074

My review of THE GLASS DEVIL contains mini reviews of  DETECTIVE INSPECTOR HUSS and THE TORSO.

Other sites to check

DVDs available of the television movies made by Yellowbird of 6 stories based on Helene Tursten stories, with apparently more to come. These appear to be immensely popular in Sweden.


kathy d. said...

Honestly, I want to read this book, however, I cannot get into it.

I enjoyed the previous three books featuring Irene Huss, but this one strikes me as stilted. It just isn't pulling me in or interesting me.

So far there is no character development or anything other than direct sentences. Perhaps, it's the "no adornment" which you mention. Whatever it is, it's not grabbing me.

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - A really fine review - thanks. It's interesting that you would mention the writing style in this one. I too found it very spare and a little different to the writing style in the other Tursten novels I've read. I liked the mystery, though, and I got a solid sense of place in the hospital scenes. And I do like the characters of the investigation team. Of course, I'm biased towards Tursten's work, but still I think the police procedural aspect and the inter-relationships among the team are well done.

Kerrie said...

Kathy, perhaps it is the different translator - this is a different person to at least 2 of the other novels.

David Harry said...

I really enjoy reviews of authors that don't write in english originally, there is other flavor in them.
It seems there is a bloom of swedish ones, like Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and Hakan Nesser. Thanks for the sharing it!!


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