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PROTECTED BY THE SHADOWS
by Helene Tursten and Marlaine Delargy, trans.
Soho Crime, January 2017
279 pages
$26.95
ISBN: 1616958456


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In her tenth appearance, the redoubtable Irene Huss, the Detective Inspector from Göteborg, Sweden, once again must confront the presence of organized gangs in her city. The warfare that so frequently accompanies their presence is signalled in dramatic fashion in the opening pages when an innocent pizza delivery guy witnesses the spectacular death of a member of a biker gang, set on fire by rival gang members. His terrified phone call to police emergency is the opening act in an investigation that will involve both Irene's Organized Crimes Unit and the Violent Crimes Unit and will result in serious threats to the safety of both Irene and her family.

Something that has marked this series is the marriage that Irene enjoys with her husband Krister, unusually happy for a dedicated senior police officer. Indeed, as the book opens, Irene is a bit hung-over following her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary celebration. They are also celebrating Krister's recent sole proprietorship of Gladys', the restaurant that he, as chef, had helped to its present success. So when a bomb is planted under Krister's car outside the restaurant, unfortunately seriously injuring another person who was borrowing it, and further, when Krister is uncharacteristically close-mouthed about what might have caused the attack, it opens an uncomfortable distance between the couple.

Soon enough, the connection between the gangs and the bomb becomes clear and Irene is forced to insist that her husband, daughter, and even the dog go into hiding until the situation changes. She herself also relocates, but that does not mean that she is free of danger. It becomes evident that Organized Crimes has been infiltrated by a mole and what should have remain secret has found its way to the gangs. Irene has the sensation of being stalked and she is not wrong.

We are informed that PROTECTED BY THE SHADOWS represents Irene's final appearance. Often readers who have faithfully followed a lengthy series are distressed at this sort of news, but their disappointment may be mitigated in this instance by the sense that there has been a recent decline in the quality of the installments, a decline that is especially notable here. The work/life balance that has been a feature of the series is missing along with the absence of Irene's family. Nor are the gang members or their victims either individually interesting or strongly characterized. There is a lack of tension that does not encourage continuing reading past one's bedtime or picking the book up the next day. Completionists will certainly want to read this one, of course, but those less dedicated may comfortably give it a miss.

§ Yvonne Klein is a writer, translator, and retired college English professor who lives in Montreal. She's been editing RTE since 2008.

Reviewed by Yvonne Klein, December 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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