Tursten, Helene - 'The Torso' (translated by Katarina E Tucker)
THE TORSO is the third in the Detective Inspector Irene Huss series and the second to be published by Soho Press after 2003's DETECTIVE INSPECTOR HUSS.
Irene Huss is forty-something, a talented officer in the Gothenburg police force with a stable family life consisting of a chef husband, twin teenage daughters and a loveable dog, Sammie.
The investigation begins when a bag containing just a torso is found washed up on the coast. The torso has been so mutilated that DNA analysis is required to determine the gender. The only clue they have is the unusual tattoo on the body part. Faxing a drawing of the tattoo to neighbouring police forces, they get a call from a superintendent in Copenhagen. As Irene is the only one in the team capable of understanding/speaking Danish she is sent there. This gives her the opportunity to try and find the missing daughter of a neighbour, last living in Copenhagen. Irene's trip is successful in getting the identity of the owner of the torso but it sparks off a further string of murders, all linked to Irene in some way. The implication is that the murderer is following Irene and there is evidence that it could even be a police officer.
Initially I thought this wasn't going to be too gruesome but it did get worse in terms of details of what had happened to the murder victims after death and there are some nasty videos described. But even peeking though one's fingers this is a compelling read. Though the person behind the atrocities can be deduced quite early on there are enough red herrings to throw the reader off the scent and make them think they are wrong. What I enjoyed most was just spending time with Irene both in her investigation and at home with her family. I could easily have just carried straight on with the next book if it had been available.
Some humour is provided in the shape of Irene's boss, Superintendent Andersson, an impatient man who appears to be terrified of the female pathologist and female prosecutor. Irene's colleagues are quirky individuals and some feature more heavily in the investigation than others with the most annoying team member, Jonny, most prominent of the group.
The seedy side of Copenhagen is brought to life but there is less of a sense of place of Gothenburg, which interestingly, felt like a different Gothenburg to that of Eric Winter's in Ake Edwardson's series.
I eagerly look forward to reading more by Helene Tursten.
Read another review of THE TORSO.
Karen Meek, England