Night Rounds (Irene Huss)
by Helene Tursten
Translated by Laura A. Wideburg;
Cover Artist: Richard Nixon / Archangel Images
Review by Verna Suit
Soho Crime Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616950064
Date: 07 February 2012 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
One night the power goes off in small, private Lowander Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden. Nurse Marianne, who is on ICU night duty, is nowhere to be found, and because the ICU respirator stops, her patient dies. The police arrive and search the hospital. They find Nurse Marianne lying over the sabotaged back-up generator, strangled to death.
Inspector Irene Huss and the rest of Goteborg's Serious Crime Unit investigate this odd pair of deaths. The case becomes increasingly bizarre when the general-duty night nurse claims that during the power outage she saw the ghost of Nurse Tekla, who hanged herself in the hospital attic many years ago. A homeless mentally ill woman may have also seen the ghost, or perhaps the murderer. Or perhaps they are the same. A more down-to-earth complication is the disappearance of a day nurse, who hasnít shown up for duty and canít be located.
A multitude of viable suspects keeps one from guessing the solution for most of the book. A leisurely pace allows for digressions into hospital life, Swedish nurse-training practices in the 1940s, and a condemnation of Sweden's current handling of the homeless mentally ill.
Inspector Huss is a concerned mother on two fronts. At home, she worries that her marriage is suffering from conflicting husband/wife schedules, and that her newly-converted vegan daughter is becoming dangerously politicized. At work, she worries about her boss's health and tries to keep peace among her young, opinionated teammates. A strident pathologist and an attack cat provide comic relief, and Irene engages in violence without bloodshed through her use of Ju-Jitsu.
Night Rounds is a police procedural that borders on a cozy and should provide a welcome respite for those tired of dark, mean streets.