The Department of Sensitive Crimes by Alexander McCall Smith
by Luke Randall
If you have read and enjoyed the “Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series of books (also televised) by Alexander McCall Smith, you will probably enjoy the Mr Varg series of books “The Department of Sensitive Crimes,” “The Talented Mr. Varg,” “The Man with the Silver Saab” and the “The Discreet Charm of the Big Bad Wolf.”
Set in Sweden rather than Botswana, Ulf Varg heads up the “department for sensitive crimes.” Ulf is concerned with odd, but not too threatening crimes. Ulf is a sympathetic, well-educated, and likeable man, with a knowledge of and interest in Nordic art. He has a dog called Marten, the only dog in Sweden who is capable of lip-reading (but only in Swedish).
Ulf has several colleagues into whose lives we gain an insight, such as Anna, married to an anaesthetist, but very fond of Ulf; Erik, whose sole interest is fishing and more.
Light but enjoyable reading. One review states that ‘‘Equal parts hilarious and heartening… but most of all, I appreciated the philosophical underpinnings of the novel—a belief in goodness, kindness, and affirming joy.’ Perhaps a tonic for some to take one’s mind off some of the weighty problems of our times.