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The Department of Sensitive Crimes

Detective Varg, Book 1
Narrated by: Saul Reichlin
Series: Detective Varg, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 36 mins
3.7 out of 5 stars (22 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo introduced us to Scandi noir. Now, welcome to Alexander McCall Smith's world of Scandi blanc....

Ulf Varg works in Malmo's Department of Sensitive Crimes. Like all Scandinavian detectives he has his issues. In his case these include his unresolved feelings for his colleague, Anna; his impatience over the seeming incompetence of his irritating colleague Blomquist; and his concerns for the health of his hearing-impaired dog, Marten, the only dog in Sweden (and possibly all Scandinavia) who is able to lip-read (in Swedish).

Along with his colleagues, Ulf is called upon to investigate a bizarre attack on a market trader, the disappearance of a handsome man who may or may not exist, and the affairs of a variety of young female students whose relationships with one another leave a great deal to be desired.

Ulf and his team come to realise that the world is a puzzling place, lycanthropy (werewolfism) exists and fish might have something to teach us. There is so much to learn if you are a Swedish detective, and in the first book in this new quasi-Scandinavian series, Ulf Varg embarks on these lessons with spirit and good humour.

©2019 Alexander McCall Smith (P)2019 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What listeners say about The Department of Sensitive Crimes

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A+++++

excellent story, well read, Saul Reichlen was perfect choice to read such a story A+++.

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Slow paced but a real giggle and treat!

Quirky. Thoughtful. Gentle. Not for all but some will hang off every word! Less about the crime and more the insight of the characters and take off of scandi crime.

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The Department of Sensitive Crimes

This looks like another wonderful series by Alexander McCall Smith. Some great characters of course and another setting with all the intriguing language we’ve come to expect from this author. I can’t wait for the next one. Great narration that was at the right pace and enough variation in voices to make all the characters appear to be in the room with you.

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Captivating but a very sudden end

I really enjoyed it, the narration was great and overall it was interesting, but the end was so sudden.

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Very very very boring.

I just could not even get past the first few chapters . I am big fan of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency and was very disappointed.

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rubbish!

McCall Smith has a flop. loved previous work, but this is poor, inane, smug rubbish!

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  • Mark
  • 10-11-2019

An off beat story with subtle sarcasm narrated by

An off beat story with subtle sarcasm narrated by the master Saul Reichlin. A laid back, easy listening story for the second tier in my library.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-07-2019

Absolutely loved it

Alexander McCall Smith never fails to write a lovely story. He's by far my favourite author. I always finish his books with a smile and a good feeling and this one was no exeption.

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  • Simon
  • 14-03-2019

A Charming Meander Leading Nowhere in Particular!

As a regular consumer of so-called Scandi-noir, I have to admit I was quite bewitched by this concept of Scandi-blanc and there's no doubt that McCall-Smith has pulled off something very much in that mode. His charming lead Ulf Varg and the rest are rather pleasant compared to our usual Nordic detectives and associates and Saul Rechlin matches that nicely with his narration. There is a lovely, almost world-weary wisdom about Varg and co and you should be warned that they pontificate at length either singly or jointly on almost any subject without warning. Dogs learning to lip read was one of my favourites but there were plenty more. The plot, poor thing, does occasionally get a look-in and is sporadically given a lethargic prod to move it along between chats as various, minor crimes flitter towards being the centre of attention. The book and its denizens definitely have a charm all of their own and I'm still smiling about the concept of Scandi-blanc. However, I have to admit a lot of this just washed over me making it an okay listen but not one that I had a very strong reaction to in any kind of way. It's worth a try I would imagine if you like nice gentle mysteries where the characters rather than the plot take centre stage but otherwise it's all a little insipid.

24 people found this helpful

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  • K. Bridges
  • 20-10-2019

An amusing aside

This was a fun story along the lines of "The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency" but set in Sweden. Ulf Warg and colleagues are certainly at the centre of some sensitive crimes although, as usual. this is really a story of human (plus dog and wolf) nature rather than there really being any mystery involved. An enjoyable listen.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Arabella
  • 29-03-2019

best story and narrator ever

These are deceptively simple stories explaining complex human reactions. I was totally impressed with the narrative communication as wrll as the content.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amelia
  • 27-10-2019

Another gem

I absolutely adored this. Alexander McCall Smith just always gets it right - a magical blend of kindness, quirkiness and humour. His ability to tell wonderful tales whilst also revealing human nature is quite breathtaking. I love the warmth he always shows his characters in all his books, no matter what their foibles. Tolerance oozes from each chapter, but not in a self righteous way, rather in a warm loving way. Perfect listening. I can’t wait for the second instalment.

1 person found this helpful

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  • M. A. Ccckerham
  • 20-08-2020

sorry but I found this a bit dull and rather odd

sorry but I found this book a bit dull and rather odd. Not sure if people really talk in this strange over-polite manner, although I did like Varg

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  • Demelza Harris
  • 08-07-2020

Slow to start but gets better.

Different to authors usual style. Reader was slow and deliberate which did suit the characters,but it took me a while to get used to it. A lot of detail setting up the characters which to start with I found annoying,but In the end concluded it suits the style of writing. Not as Witty as the Scotland street books ,or as exciting as the number new detective agency in my opinion ,but I will try another to see how the characters evolve. Think the author is try to do a spoof on the the current flood of TV Swedish dark crime series . Not sure Alistairs quite got it right. At the heart of the story is department of sensitive crimes when he exists to solves unusual cases. Including missing persons and an attack on someone legs ,headed by a detective who’s Swedish name translates to wolf wolf and is referred to a lot. didn’t find this sub plot particularly funny or relevant to the story and it became boring as I could see where the conversation was going. There are several other characters in the team who are ok .Anna ,possible love interest.and a PC his name I forget, viewed by all the others to be over enthusiastic and meticulous gets recruited to the team at the end of the book .so setting him for the next instalment no doubt.and wolfs psychologist who he discusses his life and cases with, and without his input the crimes may not get solved . A pleasant listen but easy to fall asleep to. And easy to forget.but that’s may be just my age.

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  • Kta
  • 07-07-2020

Terrible "writing"

The blurb sounded interesting so i thought i would give it a go... only managed about an hour and a half before i HAD to switch it off. Terrible writing with long and pointless meandering descriptions. Nothing happens except they all get a cup of coffee and we learn in detail that detective varg has a dog that he taught to sit. I dont like the No.1 ladies detective series - for the same reasons... i hoped that Alexander McCall Smith would have improved or changed style... Nope. This is as bad as his other writing. Tried to return this but audible wouldnt let me. Waste of a credit

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  • Simon. Kindall
  • 12-05-2020

Pleasant book but just not for me

I enjoy detective crime thrillers and I an enjoy a series so you can get in to the characters. This book is pleasant no swearing no excessive violence and a possible love story to come. But I'm sorry to say I won't be buying the next book it was too slow for me and nothing to keep your brain going and just a brief who's done it which was solved all to quickly. As for the narration this was perfect Saul Reichlin is one of the best out there.

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  • Mrs O
  • 01-07-2019

Has potential

The set up has potential as do the characters but I did not find it to have the usual zing of Alexander Mccall Smith.

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  • Hes
  • 17-05-2019

Lovely

Slow to get going but it just got better and better. Gentle stories of human nature.