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The Dying Detective

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The Dying Detective was written in Swedish and published in 2010. It was translated into English in 2016. This page-turner is quality Nordic crime writing with some underlying character-driven humour.

The protagonist is an out-of-shape retired ace-detective who suffers a stroke just before devouring a sausage from the best hot-dog kiosk in Stockholm and winds up in hospital. His neurologist, aware of his previous career, asks him about a 25 year old cold case. Our hero, Lars Martin Johansson, begins to sniff around the case, and soon becomes obsessed with it.

The author of the book, Leif G. W. Persson is a well-known criminologist and a psychological profiler as well as a novelist. I half expected this novel to be full of technical police procedural detail, but not so. The Lars character is distanced enough from the police force in his retirement that he freely criticizes some of the police leaders he once worked alongside, portraying at least one of them as a bumbling fool. Much of his own investigative work is accomplished while lying on his sofa at home, about to have a nap.

Although this book surrounds a gruesome crime and the chief character is debilitated by a stroke, it comes across as somewhat lightweight crime fiction, certainly not as dark as I expected it to be. It’s an enjoyable read.

2 Comments

  1. I’m intrigued, if not least by the nod to Conan Doyle, whose “Adventure of the Dying Detective” (in which Holmes feigned moribundity in order to trap a murderer) was a favorite of mine, playing up the Watson-Holmes bond one moment and working the absurd side of the street the next. A bit of raving about oysters…

    • Beyond the mystery, this is a book about a guy coming to terms with his mortality and his past. The author does mention Holmes (and his brother) but he really doesn’t work that angle.

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