The Beige Man (Irene Huss)
by Helene Tursten
Cover Artist: Christie Goodwin / Arcangel Images
Review by Verna Suit
Soho Crime Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616954000
Date: 03 February 2015 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In Goteborg, Sweden, two boys steal a car, and as they are chased by police, they run down and kill a pedestrian. A search for the boys is unsuccessful, but it leads to the body of a young girl which has been hidden in a forgotten root cellar. This seems an unlikely coincidence. As it turns out, the two deaths are connected.
Detective Inspector Irene Huss and her colleagues follow snatches of leads hoping that some pattern will appear. When it does, the pattern unfortunately indicates that the dead girl may have been a sex slave. For a time, the only good thing to come out of the case is a business trip for Irene to Tenerife to consult with the police department there. In the depths of a frigid January, she finds it a welcome respite.
Although The Beige Man can clearly be labeled a police procedural, it is more than that. Like all of Tursten's books, characters and their relationships are her chief focus -- relationships among police officers in both Sweden and the Canary Islands, and within her family at home.
The tone of the book drifts into the didactic when discussing human trafficking, although one learns some shocking things. For instance, human trafficking today may be more lucrative than drug trafficking. It is also a more attractive crime, in that drug trafficking brings stiff sentences while punishment for human trafficking lags behind and is treated more leniently. The plot itself meanders and is a bit hard to follow. All in all, a beige book.