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The Department of Sensitive Crimes

(Detective Varg #1)

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  6,186 ratings  ·  1,172 reviews

The Department of Sensitive Crimes is Scandinavian Blanc, vastly different from Scandinavian Noir. There is nothing noir about the world of Ulf Varg, Detective Inspector in the Sensitive Crimes Department of the Criminal Investigation Authority for the city of Malmö, Sweden. Ulf is concerned with odd, but not too threatening crimes, such as a stab wound to the back of the

Hardcover, 1st U.S., 240 pages
Published April 16th 2019 by Pantheon Books / Knopf Doubleday
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Will Jones Yes seems to only be a joke to me. It made me chuckle when I got the book. I believe that was the only purpose.
Don Goncalves It is.
CD - unabridged. Audio (6 discs)
Product Number: C05577
Released: Apr 17, 2019
ISBN: #9781980031581
Narrator/s: David Rintoul
Publisher: Recorded Bo…more
It is.
CD - unabridged. Audio (6 discs)
Product Number: C05577
Released: Apr 17, 2019
ISBN: #9781980031581
Narrator/s: David Rintoul
Publisher: Recorded Books, Inc.(less)

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 ·  6,186 ratings  ·  1,172 reviews

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Kylie D
A strange little book, not unenjoyable, just a bit bizarre. We follow along with detective Ulf Varg and his team at the Department Of Sensitive Crimes in Sweden as they try to solve some curious cases, including a stabbing in the back of the knee and the disappearance of an imaginary boyfriend. Witty and full of eccentric characters, I found myself chuckling a couple of times. I was amused by the quirkiness of both the characters and the storyline. I'm still sitting here shaking my head at what ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
Please note that I am already one of this author's biggest fans!

Another new series by Alexander McCall Smith and it starts well. He tries something slightly different this time and takes a gentle poke at the crime genre, specifically Nordic Noir. There is nothing dark in this book at all as Detective Varg and his odd team attempt to solve a series of "sensitive" crimes. Most of the characters are like the author himself and they ramble at length and philosophise on anything at the drop of a hat.
A light and gentle read with McCall Smith's signature warmth and homespun philosophy. None of the 'sensitive' crimes passed on to the Department are very serious but are thoughtfully handled and resolved by Detective Varg, who is a master of understanding human nature.

I'm a big fan of the author's No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street but this one doesn't have quite the same appeal to me, being somewhat slower and more reflective. However, McCall Smith's books have a habit of cree
The Department of Sensitive Crimes was an unusual police department. Run by head detective Ulf Varg, with Anna, Erik and Carl as his off siders, Ulf found himself working more with Anna than the others. But the crimes were passed on to them from other departments because of their sensitive natures.

With the combination of a low-level stabbing, a missing imaginary friend then a missing real friend (or was she?) as just the start, plus Ulf’s dog Martin being treated for depression – it really was
John Martin
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really enjoyable read for me: quick, gentle, light, quirky with pockets of very funny humour.
I've been a fan for some of the stripped-back writing that comes out of Scandinavia, and if the author had chosen a Nordic pen name I would never have suspected it wasn't actually a product of Sweden.
The fact that Alexander McCall Smith promotes this as Scandi Blanc rather than Scandi Noir flagged it a satire I wanted to read.
He gets inside the heads of an array of characters just brilliantly.
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Department of Sensitive Crimes introduces us to detective Ulf Varg and his team, who are called upon to handle cases that are deemed too unusual or strange for the regular police force. This book contains three of those cases: a man stabbed in the back of the knee, a missing imaginary boyfriend, and a werewolf frightening guests at a spa. In between, we are treated to details about Varg and his teammates, and also his dog Martin.

At first, I found the storytelling style to be a bit disjointed
The Department of Sensitive Crimes is the first full-length novel in the Detective Varg series by popular British author, Alexander McCall-Smith. And he’s having a lend of us, the reader. If that’s not obvious from the title and the characters, then the cases they deal with should confirm it. Those characters, though, do give him enormous scope for insightful observations and wise words.

The DoSC consists of Carl (incredibly conscientious), Erik (obsessed by fishing), Ulf (kind and sensitive and
Kasa Cotugno
Nobody writes like Alexander McCall Smith. He has a formula, and this time he's transposed it to Scandinavia where, if fiction coming out in the past 20 years or so is to believed, corruption and mayhem fester around every corner. But with his talent for creating casts of lovable characters, Smith traipses out here in the creation of a department that will handle those quirky cases that need attention, but more serious minded police won't waste time on (after all, they're too busy chasing knife ...more
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I firmly believe every avid reader has a list of authors they really, really want to read....but never seem to get around to actually picking up a book. I know I'm guilty of this. I could probably list at least 10 writers that intrigue me and really want to read their work, but I'm drowning in the ocean of my TBR and never seem to get to that list of new-to-me writers.

Alexander McCall Smith is on that list. For years, I have heard about his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, but have just neve
Kirsty ❤️
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
McCall Smith for me is a little bit like James Patterson; no matter how many different series they create you always know when you are reading one. They both have a bit f a unique style you can instantly recognise. With Smith we have quirky characters and gentle crime. Ok in the first story someone gets stabbed in the leg but it's still not as dark as other authors. 

I'm not sure about sensitive but the crimes are definitely different and intriguing. If anything they are all solved a little bit t
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Smith, who first came to my notice writing gentle mysteries about a traditionally sized Botswanan lady detective, now turns his hand to one of my favorite genres: Scandinavian crime thrillers! Much more my speed, too, as there are no grisly murders here! No, there's a quickly solved non-lethal stabbing, a missing boyfriend who may not be real, and a possible . . . werewolf?

All the crimes are soon solved, and there's no great sense of urgency. But, as with the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books
df parizeau
Jan 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
I'd never read McCall Smith until now, but this ARC came through work and it piqued my interest. I'm not sure if the issue is that this is the first book in the series and he is trying to establish a lot of character traits, but I found this very self-involved and dull.

There is so much useless dialogue and conversations between the characters. Very little of it is anything more than pedantic small-talk.

I also find it rather self-aggrandizing of Smith to say he's creating a "new genre." Scani-bla
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am in a happy place having just finished reading this first of the Ulf Varg adventures in Malmo, detective in The Department of Sensitive Crimes. I had read the prequel and number 2 books prior to this one so am happy to have gotten the full picture from the beginning.
I laughed heartily many times in the reading of this book and I know I will do so when I read the book again in the future as this author definitely knows how to tickle my funny bone. Now that's an idiom that may or may not be po
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Department of Sensitive Crimes is the first full-length novel in the Detective Varg series by popular British author, Alexander McCall-Smith. And he’s having a lend of us, the reader. If that’s not obvious from the title and the characters, then the cases they deal with should confirm it. Those characters, though, do give him enormous scope for insightful observations and wise words.

The DoSC consists of Carl (incredibly conscientious), Erik (obsessed by fishing), Ulf (kind and sensitive and
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for the advance copy of this delightful, lighthearted book. Alexander McCall Smith is one of my favourite writers. I have read all of his Ladies No.1 Detective Agency and the 44 Scotland Street series, and many of his other books. I hope this will be the start of another ongoing series.

When you think of Swedish police investigations and mysteries, the popular Scandinavian-Noir genre comes to mind with its dark and disturbing tales. This i
I'm more of a dabbler than a hardcore fan of this author (although I do have a favourite series - Isabel Dalhousie), but when I found out he was turning his hand to Scandi-crime I couldn't resist. While this was a good, short read, overall I have to say I could take it or leave it.

Detective Ulf Varg is the nominal head of the Department of Sensitive Crimes, an offshoot of the Malmö Police Department in southern Sweden. When the police can't work out what to do with their more unusual cases, they
Ivonne Rovira
I tried, I really, really tried. I love Precious Ramtoswe and Isabel Dalhousie and poor, poor Bertie of 44 Scotland Street. How could I not?

But Detective Ulf Varg of the Department of Sensitive Crimes of Malmö, Sweden’s Police Department has trapped in a novel that appears a cross between Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s Kurt Wallender and Seinfeld; the Swedish flavor and conscientious characters are there, but it’s really a novel about nothing. I tried for two hours to get into, but I never, never
I liked this first novel in AMS's new series, but I didn't love it. I read it off and on between other more pressing reads, so maybe I didn't give it the best chance, but it was just OK for me. I'll definitely try the next book, and see how it goes.

I know that series can often start out OK and then they get better as they go, like his Number One Ladies Detective series. So we'll see. I did enjoy the audiobook narration. I also like the new Swedish setting, which in my experience is new for his
Kylie H
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is completely in line with the gently philosophical 'No 1 Ladies Detective Agency' series. the central character is Ulf Varg, a Swedish detective with the Department of Sensitive Crimes, where he works with a number of quirky staff who all enjoy discussions about obscure facts and strange observations.
In amongst all this sometimes distracting conversation there are a few mysteries involving a minor stabbing, a missing imaginary boyfriend and a health spa with strange goings on.
Ulf is k
3.75 stars

McCall Smith meets Scandinavian noir, and this is a gentle, humorous poke at that genre--but fear not, intrepid McCall Smith fans, this isn't actual noir.

I was skeptical, since the only other series I like of his is the No. 1 Ladies one. This has a very different voice, and, thankfully, the American edition has kept the British spelling so it matches his writing beautifully. But he definitely has that Swedish noir kind of feel to the writing.

Ulf Varg (both of his names mean wolf in old
Sheila Beaumont
I loved this one. Set in Sweden, it's a fun, light, gentle satire of Scandinavian crime fiction, most likely to be enjoyed by readers who like both Alexander McCall Smith's quirky, philosophical tales and dark Scandinavian crime thrillers. I liked the protagonist, Detective Ulf Varg (Wolf Wolf), who has a deaf dog named Martin who he has taught to lip-read. And the loquacious policeman Blomquist is an amusing sidekick. Apparently this is the first book in a series, so I'm looking forward to more ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks, arc-s
~ 3.5 ~ but rounding it up because it's the first in a series and because it was just so darn cute.

As a long-time fan of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, I was really excited to read the first installment of Alexander McCall Smith’s new Detective Varg series. The blurbs for this “Scandi blanc” novel were hilarious so I was ready for more cheerful, detective fun. On this, the book definitely delivered. It was absolutely delightful.

The Department of Sensitive Crimes was a unique take on
Susan Johnson
Feb 05, 2019 rated it liked it
McCall Smith turns his gentle hand to Malmo, Sweden where a police department investigates "sensitive" crimes. These are crimes that really don't fit in anywhere else. The department is headed up by Ulf "TheWolf" Varg and has three other members.

Cases include an unique look at the stabbing of a knee, an imaginary boyfriend and an investigation of the chief of police's relative's resort. It needs to handled with kid gloves and tact and involves a wolf.

The series reminds me of the Dalhousie and
John Hatley
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first book I've ever read by Alexander McCall Smith, The Department of Sensitive Crimes is a very successful mixture of detective novel and enjoyable humour. I think perhaps I'll be reading more in this new series about detective Ulf Varg!
Elaine Tomasso
I would like to thank Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK for an advance copy of The Department of Sensitive Crimes, the first novel to feature Detective Ulf Varg of the Malmö police.

Ulf, along with his colleagues, Anna and Carl and assisted by Erik in the office and Officer Blomqvist on the beat are called to solve several unrelated crimes over the course of the novel, a stabbing, an alleged murder and strange goings on at a rural health spa.

The Department of Sensitive Crimes is an unusua
Karla Huebner
I checked this one out because I hadn't actually read any of the author's mysteries and I love his 44 Scotland Street series. This book (I don't know if he's written more in the series) centers on a Swedish group who concentrate on minor oddball crimes. Well, Alexander McCall Smith is practically an industry unto himself, with umpteen separate series to his name (not sure how he manages to do this), so while he can be absolutely delightful, he can also fall rather flat. This title did not partic ...more
Angus McKeogh
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this one quite a lot. No great events but more of one small event after another adding up to a quirky and fairly complex plot. Suffuse with humor and near comedic observations. Made for an entertaining read.
Aug 09, 2020 added it
A dnf

Lost interest in this book, not for me. Too light and trite (hearted?) Fine for those looking for an amusing way to read a mystery, but I am not interested. (At the start I was, as there were some offbeat and different characters introduced.) But that was not enough for me.

Read about one-quarter of the way, so no rating.
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Quick, humorous, and enjoyable, a gentle parody of the Scandinavian noir genre of mysteries. This involves a team of Swedish policemen [and -woman] who investigate "sensitive crimes". These are ones not investigated by the regular police department. The team is led by Detective Ulf Varg [Wolf Wolf] and a policewoman with two clerks. A talkative [usually about nothing of consequence] policeman from another department aids them. Each has a whimsical personality. Any solutions to the cases-- the fi ...more
Sid Nuncius
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Like so many people, I enjoy The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series very much. However, I have never really got on with Alexander McCall Smith’s other work and this remains largely true of this start of a new series.

The Department of Sensitive Crimes is set in an odd little department of the police in Malmo, Sweden. The location is significant: it is the setting for both Wallander and The Bridge and McCall Smith is trying to create a contrast to these classics of Scandi-Noir. Ulf Varg (transl
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Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what ...more

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