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Alexander McCall Smith’s (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series) Detective Varg mysteries star a cerebral, conflicted detective in an appealingly oddball police department in Malmö, Sweden. Ulf Varg (both “Ulf” and “Varg” mean “wolf” in Swedish) is a senior detective in the Department of Sensitive Crimes, which investigates unusual cases, like that of a fish rotting in the vents of a victim’s car or, in this, the fourth in the series, the case of a missing cabin. As Varg sets about tracking down the house, he considers a newly available treatment for his deaf dog. Meanwhile, the Sensitive Crimes unit is threatened with downsizing, and Varg and his three coworkers’ reactions and bumbling efforts to keep their jobs make this partially an office comedy. Much of the book is given over to the inner workings of Varg’s mind, beginning with a long interior monologue about letter writing. Low on plot, low on setting, but high on comical quirkiness.

Publishers Weekly
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A crime ripped from the mind of Mother Goose animates McCall’s witty fourth outing for Swedish police detective Ulf Varg (after 2021’s The Man in the Silver Saab). Fridolf Bengtsson, owner of Sweden’s largest bacon-processing business, arrives at Ulf’s office in the Department of Sensitive Crimes to report that his country cottage has been stolen—literally removed from its foundations and taken somewhere else. While Ulf investigates, he faces an additional pair of time-sensitive problems: in order to cut down on operating costs, he must select a member of his tight-knit team to transfer to another department; and his girlfriend, a veterinarian’s assistant, is nudging him to get experimental cochlear implants for his nearly deaf dog. Ulf and company are extremely pleasant company, lending this farcical mystery all the comforts of a good cozy without most of the clichés, and Smith juggles the various subplots with ease. Simply put, this is good-natured fun. Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency. (Aug.)