In the second installment in the best-selling Detective Varg series, Ulf and his team investigate a notorious philanderer—a wolf of a man whose bad reputation may be all bark and no bite.
The Department of Sensitive Crimes, renowned for taking on the most obscure and irrelevant cases is always prepared to dive into an investigation, no matter how complex. So when the girlfriend of an infamous author who insists her bad-boy beau is being blackmailed approaches Ulf Varg, the department’s lead detective, Ulf is determined to help. It’s rather difficult to determine what skeletons hide in the hard-living lothario’s closet, though. And while Swedes are notoriously tolerant . . . well, there are limits. Even for the Swedish.
The case requires Ulf’s total concentration, but he finds himself distracted by his ongoing attraction to his co-worker, Anna, whose own fears about her husband’s fidelity are causing a strain on her marriage. When Ulf is also tasked with looking into a group of dealers exporting wolves that seem more canis familiaris than canis lupus, it will require all of his team’s investigative instincts and dogged persistence to put these matters to bed.
Smith's disappointing sequel to 2019's The Department of Sensitive Crimes has its memorable and moving moments, but not enough of them. Det. Ulf Varg and the other members of Sweden's Department of Sensitive Crimes handle cases with political or social angles, not run-of-the-mill cases. Varg and his colleagues, despite their special status, must work in a bureaucracy where supplies can only be ordered by an item number they aren't given access to, leading them to request something at random so they can start to link items with their identifying numbers. Other mild satire includes Varg's politician brother belonging to the Moderate Extremists Party. One plotline focuses on the possible blackmail of a prominent author known as Sweden's Hemingway; another involves an allegation of fraud in international dog sales. The heart of the book is Varg, who just may be too sensitive to handle sensitive crimes. At one point, he has to balance self-interest and ethics when a colleague he has a crush on asks him to look into whether her husband is having an affair. This entry falls short of the high standard set by Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books.