Night Rounds, by Helene Tursten

by Peter

I am delighted to see Night Rounds (original Swedish title Nattrond, first published in 1999) finally in English translation! At the same time, I have a hard time not mentioning how strongly I dislike that English and American publishers don’t publish foreign crime fiction series in sequence. This book is actually the second book in Helene Tursten’s highly acclaimed series about Detective Inspector Irene Huss, following the very good first novel – Detective Inspector Irene Huss.

Night Rounds by Helene TurstenNight Rounds: A Detective Inspector Irene Huss InvestigationSo now, in 2012, following the publication of the first, the third and the fifth books in the series, and after the TV-series about Irene Huss has been on public television here in the US, comes the second installment in the series. I guess I should simply say better late than never. But I think it is important for readers to actually know that this is a very old book – the publisher doesn’t say this and I have seen readers complaining about it on Amazon.

As some readers may remember, the Swedish detective Irene Huss is a former Ju-Jitsu champion and a mother of twin teenage girls. She is also wife of a successful chef. She works in the Violent Crimes Unit in Goteborg, Sweden – the second largest city in Sweden.

One night the power goes out at a local hospital, The Lowander Institute, a private hospital in Goteborg, Sweden. The back-up generator fails to kick in, and a patient in ICU dies. The nurse who was looking after the patient disappears. There is only one witness, and she claims to have seen Nurse Tekla doing her night rounds. Which could have been an excellent observation, except that nurse Tekla died – committed suicide – 60 years ago. She lived and breathed for the hospital, and she killed herself after being dismissed by the founding father, Dr. Sverker Löwander, the Surgical Chief of Medicine.

So there it is – Detective Inspector Huss has to figure out the why’s and the who’s of a murder and a disappearance basically without a clue, working a murder scene that some think is haunted, trying to figure if there is perhaps something in the real human relationships or events in the past that can somehow explain what is going on.

As more people die, it becomes clear that somebody is impersonating nurse Tekla Olsson. But who? There are several suspects? And why? What is the purpose? Why are people being killed this way? As the investigation moves forward, old and deeply hidden secrets emerge. Things don’t come easy in this investigation – it’s about following police procedure and finding small pieces of the truth, one bit at a time.

I like reading Helene Tursten. Detective Inspector Irene Huss is one of my favorite Swedish heroines, both in the books and in the TV series. The novels about her nicely balance stories of her family life and work issues involving the investigation. Overall, good character development is one of Tursten’s strong suits, and I have always liked stories where the key people feel alive, with emotions, who are living authentic and complex lives. Also, Tursten is good at creating interesting plots and Night Rounds is no exception. This is an entertaining, suspenseful and well-written Swedish crime fiction novel that will keep you guessing right up to the end. And it has a clever ending too. Night Rounds is a good, solid police procedural I am sure you will enjoy!

Praise for the Inspector Huss series:

“An absorbing, intelligent mystery that holds its own alongside the best feminine hardboiled novels.”—Maureen Corrigan, NPR, “Fresh Air

“These days Scandinavian crime writers are thick on the ground. It’s nice to see that the women can be just as bloodthirsty as the men.”—The New York Times Book Review

“A superior Scandinavian crime novel…. Tursten does an outstanding job of offering multiple plausible murders, making this the rare procedural that actually requires the reader to evaluate alibis, motives, and means to solve the case.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

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