There has been a rise in popularity of Scandinavian crime fiction as more and more novels are being translated into English,
and not without good reason. Helene Tursten's Inspector Irene Huss novels set a good example of a series that deserves praise and attention.
The Glass Devil is the fourth in the series featuring Detective Inspector Irene Huss. Set in Sweden, the novel opens with the murder of a family: a schoolteacher and his parents, a well-respected rector and his wife. Criminal Superintendent Sven Andersson had been asked by his cousin to check on the recently divorced teacher who was showing signs of depression. He takes along Detective Inspector Huss, expecting the worst. What they find is not the suicide they expected but rather a cold-blooded murder. To complicate matters, upon an attempt to notify the parents of the deceased, police discover the rector and his wife dead in their bed, both shot to death in a similar manner as their son. The only clues left at the crime scenes are upside-down pentagrams drawn in blood on the computer screens and an upturned cross on the wall of the rector's bedroom. Could the murders be related to the rector and his sonís research into local satanic cult activity, or something entirely different?
As law enforcement begins the arduous investigation into the murders, they seem to hit dead end after dead end. A sprinkling of clues along the way is
all that propels the investigation forward. Inspector Huss travels to England in an effort to learn more from the last surviving family member, the rector's daughter, Rebecka. She is ill with depression, much like her mother had been, and unable to offer much in the way of help. Rebeckaís employer and doctor are very protective of her, creating yet one more obstacle the inspector must deal with.
Irene Huss is a strong female lead. An older woman, one of two female inspectors in her office,
she is fit and more than capable. Tursten strikes a nice balance between the
inspector's work and personal life. As the mother of twin daughters who recently turned 18 and a husband who has a demanding job if his own, she has much to juggle in her life. Tursten does a good job of showing the realities of such a struggle, including the compromises that sometimes must be made.
Personal and work lives are not the only things being juggled throughout the novel. Irene Huss and her colleagues have their hands full, often short-staffed and
with other cases to investigate. The author captures the necessity of teamwork in the law enforcement world, whether it be staff from the same office working together or connecting with other authorities outside of the district or even abroad.
True to its title, The Glass Devil
is not always what it seems. Tursten takes the novel in unexpected and sometimes very dark directions. The wrap-up of the crime seems to be a little too pat, but it
is a satisfactory ending nonetheless. This is my first, but definitely not my last, Helene Tursten novel.