The Torso, by Helene Tursten: a superb book

Based on the evidence of her first two books, there is no doubt in my mind that Helene Tursten has inherited the mantle of Maj Stowall and Per Wahloo, who wrote the type-example police procedurals back in the 1960s, in a series of ten novels featuring police detective Martin Beck. (Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels had a similar influence but I prefer Stowall/Wahloo.) There have been many very good Scandinavian police procedurals since, not least the excellent Henning Mankell, and plenty by authors from elsewhere of course, but I don’t think that anyone can better Helene Tursten. My review of her second novel, The Torso, has just been published at Euro Crime. From the review:


THE TORSO is a truly excellent read: the first two books that have been translated in this series are right at the top of my list of the best police-procedurals I have ever read. The true-to-life stories of the domestic lives of the detectives (which are best appreciated here if one has read the scene-setting DETECTIVE INSPECTOR HUSS); the personal compromises they have to make to get their jobs done; together with the dissection of every detail of the investigation, are a powerful combination. The shocks and thrills don’t come from special effects, but from what is uncovered about human nature. (The whole review is here.)


I reviewed Tursten’s first novel. Detective Inspector Huss, a few weeks ago. I challenge anyone to name a series of police procedurals that is as fine as this one (on the basis of the first two books of a series of, so far, three).