The seventh case for DI Irene Huss (The Golden Calf, 2013, etc.) gives Göteborg’s Violent Crimes Unit still another chance to show why it’s so well-named.
A pair of lowlifes steal a BMW and drive it at high speed past the police station before they hit a pedestrian, abandon the car and set it afire. Police dogs, stymied by the burning smell, can’t pick up the thieves’ scents. But they do smell something else. Their noses lead the police to an underground cellar that’s become the final resting place of a half-naked young woman who’s been strangled to death. The nightmare of dealing with two unidentified corpses ends when the victim of the hit-and-run is identified as retired cop Torleif Sandberg, universally known as “Muesli,” a friend of Superintendent Sven Andersson, Irene’s soon-departing boss in VCU. The identity of the young woman remains a mystery but not her business in Göteborg, since it’s increasingly clear that veteran trafficker Heinz Becker and big-time drug dealer Anders Pettersson had smuggled her into the country as a sex slave. But Becker is soon killed in yet another car crash, and Pettersson remains silent as the grave. While other VCU members track down possible candidates for the murderous car thieves, Irene focuses on the dead woman. A trip she’s ordered to make to Tenerife, where the young victim may have been headed, places her in the crossfire between two warring crime families, and she’s glad to limp back to chilly Sweden, where the obligatory domestic complications (sick dog, accident-prone mother, unexpected though natural death) continue unabated.
Effectively puzzling till the final pages, rewardingly logical in its conclusion: One of Irene’s best.