Detective Inspector Huss by Helene TurstenDetective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten

Detective Inspector Huss

byHelene TurstenTranslated bySteven T. Murray

Paperback | January 24, 2012

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One of the most prominent citizens of Göteborg, Sweden, plunges to his death off an apartment balcony, but what appears to be a “society suicide” soon reveals itself to be a carefully plotted murder. Irene Huss finds herself embroiled in a complex and high-stakes investigation. As Huss and her team begin to uncover the victim’s hidden past, they are dragged into Sweden’s seamy underworld of street gangs, struggling immigrants, and neo-Nazis in order to catch the killer.
Helene Tursten was a nurse and a dentist before she turned to writing. Other books in the Irene Huss series include Night Rounds, The Torso, The Glass Devil, The Golden Calf, The Beige Man, and The Treacherous Net. She was born in Göteborg, Sweden, where she now lives with her husband and daughter.
Title:Detective Inspector HussFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:400 pages, 7.5 × 5 × 1.1 inShipping dimensions:7.5 × 5 × 1.1 inPublished:January 24, 2012Publisher:Soho PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1616951117

ISBN - 13:9781616951115


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Enjoyed Overall this was an interesting and engaging read. It reminded me why I like reading books set in different countries around the world, learning about different people and places.
Date published: 2017-04-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from M0re Scandi Noir This book introduces us to Inspector Irene Huss. The storyline was good, especially the ending which neatly tied all loose ends together. I think parts of the book were lost in translation & the book would have worked better for me if it was shorter. Some of the chapters were repetetive & didn't enhance the storyline. Having said this, I've already purchased the next few books in the series. I look forward to finding where Helene Tursten leads us with Inspector Hess.
Date published: 2015-05-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Detective inspector huss A good read. However there are many incidental characters and situations that tend to lead away from the main plot and muddy the waters so to speak. I would recommend it as a well thought out book.
Date published: 2014-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Detective Inspector Huss Wow! Terrific introduction to a crime fiction writer who clearly knows what she is doing! Excellent characters and genuine understanding of how investigations proceed, complete with the highs of progress and lows of lack of results. Her medical knowledge is crucial to the details of injuries and postmortem expertise with a realistic medical examiner and staff.
Date published: 2014-07-26

Read from the Book

PrologueNOBODY SAW HIM FALL through the dense November darkness.With a dull, heavy thud he hit the rain-wet pavement. Even thoughit was still rush hour, there were few people on the street. The pedestrianshuddled beneath umbrellas turned inside out and scrunched theirchins into turned-up collars for a little protection from the icy, whippingrain. Everyone who could was driving a car or jammed into thesteaming warmth aboard a bus or streetcar.An elderly woman pulling a stubborn, soaking-wet dachshund ona leash stood closest. The howls that she and the dog uttered announcedto those people in the vicinity that something serious had happened.Hurrying pedestrians slowed their pace. Curiosity got the upperhand, and they were drawn toward the site of the accident.A white Mercedes was carelessly parked by the curb. A man in alight-colored overcoat had just rushed around the car and opened thedoor on the passenger’s side when the lady with the dachshund startedto scream. The man turned quickly, squinted through the rain, andcaught sight of the heap thirty meters away. He kept his grip on theopen car door, slowly tilted his head back, and looked up at the topfloor of the imposing apartment building. A faint moaning sound rosefrom his throat, but he remained catatonically still.Without putting on her coat, the small woman in the passenger’sseat jumped nimbly out of the car and ran over to the motionless figureon the ground. Her slenderness was emphasized by the stylishChanel dress she was wearing. She had mastered to perfection the artof running in high heels. She elbowed her way through the crowd freneticallyand reached the inner circle.Chapter OneTHE PATROL CAR WAS the first to arrive on the scene. The ambulancecame a scant five minutes later. As far as the ambulance medicscould tell, there wasn’t much for them to do. The two police officersattempted to hold back the sensation-hungry spectators who suddenlywere stoic enough to defy both wind and rain. One of the officers gotinto the car and called for backup.“Send the crime scene team to the corner of Aschebergsgatan andMolinsgatan. A guy jumped from the fifth floor. Looks like it’s that bigtimebusinessman, Knäck-something-or-other. His wife and son arehere, in shock. We need another ambulance for them. Oh, I see . . .von Knecht.”DE T E C T I V E SUPERINTENDENT Sven Andersson had justreached his old Volvo 240 and was putting his key in the lock whenhe heard a familiar female voice shouting, “Sven, wait! Case inprogress!”Annoyed, he turned to her and sighed. “What is it now?”The detective inspector’s voice revealed a slight hint of titillationwhen she said, “Richard von Knecht jumped off his balcony!”“Richard von Knecht! The Richard von Knecht?”“Yes. It sounds unbelievable. Was there a stock market crash orsomething?”“Hop in the car. Did you get an address?”THE RAIN was pouring down, and the superintendent had to put hiswindshield wipers on high to be able to see out. Göteborg was reallyliving up to its nickname of “Soaking-borg.” The week before therehad been total winter chaos with half a meter of snow; the whole cityhad been paralyzed for several days. The result would undoubtedly bea high birth rate the next August. Now it was a few degrees above freezingwith not a snowflake to be seen.DETECTIVE INSPECTOR HUSS 3Detective Inspector Irene Huss phoned her teenage daughters andtold them that she’d be late. They were used to it by now, after her manyyears with the Crime Police. They promised to take the dog for a walkand feed him, and to let their father know. Krister was no doubt usedto it, too. As was usual, he would make a good dinner for his daughters.Everything had been organized to run smoothly in the family, evenwithout her help.She must have sighed audibly, because Superintendent Anderssonturned to her and asked, “Is something bothering you?”“No, nothing. It’s depressing weather. Depressing, with scattered suicides.Depressing. Depressing!”The superintendent nodded in agreement and stared gloomily at theblack rain being flung against the windshield by the gusty wind. Hebroke the silence and asked, “How could Dispatch be so sure that itwas really Richard von Knecht who jumped?”“According to the officer on duty, the wife and son were down onthe street. Apparently, it was the son who called the police.”“Do you know what floor he fell from?”“No, but it seems it was high enough.”They sat in silence for a few minutes. At last the superintendentcleared his throat and asked, “Do you know anything about Richardvon Knecht?”“What most people know. Aristocratic family, and wealthy.Talented businessman, stock market speculator, and one of Göteborg’sbiggest celebrities. According to Aftonbladet’s financial section he’s abusiness genius, but my husband says he’s just had incredible luck.”“Is Krister an expert on business and the stock market now, too?”“No. Although he does own twenty shares of Trygg Hansa, whichhe received as a bonus when they reorganized a few years back. He’sstill the chef at Glady’s Corner.”“That’s supposed to be a great place. Very trendy, I hear.”“You bet.”Through the slapping of the windshield wipers they could now seethe flashing blue lights of the emergency vehicles. The crime team wasthere and had blocked off a large area. The site of the body’s impactwas illuminated by a soft light streaming from the glass in the frontentrance of an exclusive menswear store. The door was set into the cornerof the building’s granite foundation. Superintendent Andersson hada vague memory that there had been a pharmacy on this spot whenhe was a boy. But he wasn’t quite sure, since he had grown up in4 Helene TurstenMasthugget, the neighborhood that was torn down during “urbanrenewal” in the sixties.Above the door the corner extended into an oriel. There was an orielon the corner of each floor, whose bay windows faced in three directions,except for the top floor, which sported a balcony crowned by aturreted roof. It was from there that Richard von Knecht had plungedto the street. Superintendent Andersson let his glance pass over theremains, but he quickly looked away. Inspector Huss also shudderedwhen she saw what von Knecht looked like. It was not a pretty wayto die, she thought. One of the crime scene team came over to them.“The medical examiner will be here any minute.”“Do you know which one is coming?” asked the superintendent.A shrug was the reply. With Inspector Huss in his wake, SuperintendentAndersson walked over to the parked patrol car. He bentdown to the officer in the driver’s seat.“Hi, Superintendent Sven Andersson from Homicide.”“Hans Stefansson from PO-One. So they’ve already called in youguys?”“Yes, it’s unusually quick. We were contacted barely fifteen minutesafterward, which would mean that he jumped at five forty-five P.M. Isthat right?”“No, we were the first on the scene, at five thirty-five on the dot.He must have floated on down max five minutes earlier. My partnerand I were on Korsvägen when the call came in. I would think the correcttime of impact would be five-thirty.”Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of MedicalExaminer Yvonne Stridner. She was a professor of forensic medicineand undeniably one of the country’s most talented pathologists. ButSuperintendent Andersson had a hard time working with her becauseProfessor Stridner was a woman who demonstrated her expertise gladlyand saw no reason to hide her light under a bushel. Inspector Huss herselfhad been involved in several cases in which the hypotheses of thepolice were turned completely upside down by Yvonne Stridner’s definiteforensic opinions. And so far she had always been right. But thatwasn’t it as much as the fact that she was authoritarian and pedanticthat made it difficult for Superintendent Andersson to accept her. Husshad a strong hunch that, deep down, the superintendent did not regardforensic medicine as a proper job for a woman.The white Ford Escort with MEDICAL EXAMINER painted on both frontdoors had been parked at the outer perimeter of the blocked-off area.DETECTIVE INSPECTOR HUSS 5Out sailed the professor of forensic medicine. Even those who had noidea of her profession stood aside in deference to her commanding presence.Her flaming red hair was exquisitely set off by her soft mustardcoloredwoolen coat. She strode up to the body, took off her coat, andasked an officer to hold it. Underneath she was wearing a clean whitelab coat. She opened the little bag she was carrying, pulled on a pairof latex gloves, and squatted down next to von Knecht’s remains. Thecrime scene technicians had just rigged up a floodlight, giving her abetter view. She hadn’t cast a single glance around her. ProfessorStridner was wearing a pair of plastic protectors over her expensiveleather shoes. There was a good deal of blood around the body, mixedwith a lot of other material and diluted with rainwater. Slushy.In order to feel that she was being of some use, Inspector Huss decidedto start questioning the police officers present. The commander of theunit, Håkan Lund, she knew well. Fifteen years earlier they had bothbeen rookies in what was then the third precinct, today Polisområde1, Göteborg’s downtown area. Lund wasn’t much taller than she was—five-nine at most. But his waistline would soon be approaching hisheight if he didn’t watch out.The crime team had received their instructions. Håkan Lund turnedto Irene Huss and said easily, “At your service, Huss! Is Violent Crimesalready on site?”“Hi, how are you doing? Yes, we were called in early this time. Whendid you get here?”“We got the call from Dispatch just after five-thirty. We were insidethe station but left right away. ‘Top priority! Richard von Knecht islying dead at the corner of Molinsgatan and Aschebergsgatan!’”“How did it look here?”“Chaos! The vultures had gathered. We almost couldn’t get throughthe crowd. But we pushed and shoved and got them driven back andset up barriers. We cordoned off a large area, as you can see. A few peopledid try to get under the crime scene tape, but I yelled right in theirfaces. Literally!”Inspector Huss could imagine the scene vividly. Quickly she wenton to ask, “Who identified Richard von Knecht?”“His wife and son. When we got through the crowd a woman coveredin blood was standing here wailing. Some guy was trying to propher up. That was Fru von Knecht and her son. From what I understood,they happened to be right here on the street when he fell,” said Lundsympathetically.6 Helene Tursten“Where are they now?”“The ambulance took them off to Sahlgren Hospital. But you won’tbe able to talk to her for a couple of days, and the son was chalk whitein the face. He even threw up before they got into the ambulance.”Lund looked serious, but suddenly brightened up and exclaimed,“Hey, I know someone you’ll be interested in meeting. Come on!”Irene followed him over toward the crime team’s van. With a histrionicgesture he opened up one of the side doors and said, “This is FruEva Karlsson. Fru Karlsson, this is Detective Inspector Irene Huss.”He turned to the little old woman in the light-gray trench coat, whonodded mutely in greeting. On her knees sat a brown dachshund. Itclearly did not suffer from muteness. Over the dog’s frantic yapping Irenecould hear Lund saying, “This is the closest witness we have. She wasstanding about seven meters from the point of impact.”Irene turned to the woman. A trembling, thin white hand was heldout toward her. Cautiously, she took the fragile, ice-cold hand in hers.In a soothing tone of voice she began, “Fru Karlsson, I’d like to heara little about the tragic event you were witness to this evening—”“Frightful! I’m almost seventy-seven years old, and this is the mostappalling thing that has ever happened to me in my whole life! Towatch a human being smashed right at my feet! He almost fell righton top of Snoopy!”A thin white finger pointed accusingly at the remains of Richardvon Knecht. Irene gave up at once. It would be best to drive the oldlady home and try to interview her later.Over by the body, Stridner had begun packing up her things. Witha practiced motion the professor tore off the rubber gloves, took off herlab coat, and stuffed all of it into her bag. She had already removedthe plastic protectors from her feet. Without looking at him, Stridnermade a queenly gesture with her arm to the young police sergeant, whohad been patiently holding her coat for more than a quarter of an hour.She seemed only now to notice all the people standing around her. Shecalled out, “Is there anyone from Violent Crimes here?”Superintendent Andersson slumped, sighed, and shambled over to her.“All right, Andersson. Come and look. Don’t step in the blood,” saidthe pathologist.Inspector Huss stole after her superintendent. Stridner had taken apen from the outside pocket of her bag. She pulled briskly on one endand produced a meter-long lecture pointer. It was perfectly in characterfor Yvonne Stridner to go around with a pointer in her bag. SheDETECTIVE INSPECTOR HUSS 7said urgently, “Look there at the top of the right hand. I’ve turned hishand forward so that the light falls on it. Look!”She gestured with her slender pointer. The two detectives looked.Running across the entire back of the hand was a deep groove. It wasn’tas incised as a knife wound, but it had clearly been caused by somethingrelatively sharp.Andersson ventured to ask, “Couldn’t he have gotten that from thefall?”“No. Too distinct. The wound was inflicted by an instrument orweapon. Since I happen to know . . . knew . . . von Knecht, this deathaffects me personally. I’m actually supposed to be teaching graduate studentsall morning tomorrow, but I’ll see to the autopsy myself. I’ll startby eight at the latest and will let you know after eleven.”“Isn’t there a chance you could take a look at him tonight?” SuperintendentAndersson gazed at the professor without much hope. Shefluffed her red tresses with her fingertips. Her hairdo had been thoroughlysoaked while she was doing her preliminary investigation. “Notnecessary, Andersson,” she replied curtly. “It’s almost certain that thisis a homicide.”Irene Huss stared incredulously at the pathologist. Rage began torise inside her: being condescended to stimulates the release of adrenalinein most people. She interrupted the conversation acerbically.“Wait just a minute! What are you basing this on? And how did youknow von Knecht?”The pathologist gave her a surprised look, as if only now noticingthat another person was present. Sven Andersson muttered Irene Huss’sname and title in explanation. Before Professor Stridner managed toreply, some ambulance men came over and asked whether it was allright to take the body to Pathology. The ME nodded. She gesturedtoward the main entry.“We’ll wait over there so we won’t be in the way. And we can getout of the rain.”In a troop they walked over to the building entrance, a solid doorwith beautiful incised glass in the top half. There was no list of namesof the people who lived in the building, only a coded intercom system.You had to know the proper code to get hold of any of the residents.Yvonne Stridner came straight to the point.“We weren’t close friends, von Knecht and I. He did some sailingwith my husband. My ex-husband, to be more precise. My present husbanddoesn’t know the von Knecht family at all.”8 Helene TurstenSo the frosty medical examiner was married, and for a second time.Irene’s ire was replaced by astonishment.Oblivious to the inspector’s surprise, the professor continued.“It must be fifteen years since I last saw them. But I’m convincedthat Richard never ever would jump from a balcony twenty-five metersup! Even if he wanted to commit suicide. He was terrified of heights,you see. When he was out sailing, if a sheet or shroud starting gettingtangled on the mast, he never wanted to climb up and fix it.”“How did your ex-husband know Richard von Knecht?”Again it was Irene Huss who asked. Yvonne Stridner gave her a sharplook but nodded in comprehension of the reason the question had beenasked.“They belonged to the same crowd during their high school days.They stuck together through thick and thin over the years. Over time,various girlfriends and wives joined the group. We were invited to thespring bonfire celebration and the New Year’s party held every year.Otherwise we girls stayed pretty much on the sidelines. It was like amen’s club, or a fraternal lodge.”“How many years did you socialize with the von Knechts?”“Tore and I were married barely four years. I met them probably tentimes. As I said, this was fifteen years ago. After our divorce I lost contactwith the von Knecht circle.”Irene could see that the professor was beginning to glance at her elegantwristwatch and knew that she had to hurry and get to the lastimportant question. Quickly she asked, “Who was included in this men’sclub?”Now Yvonne Stridner looked annoyed. Maybe she thought she hadbeen too communicative.“They were men who are quite prominent today,” she said brusquely.Then she thought for a moment and her expression brightened. “Let’sdo this. I’ll make a list of all the men in the group. You’ll have it tomorrowwith the preliminary autopsy report.”She hurried off toward the white Ford Escort. Irene watched her goand said, “She’s actually quite human.”Andersson snorted. “Human, her? She’s got the emotional life of abackhoe!”Inspector Huss smiled, concluding once again that the superintendentdidn’t forgive or forget easily.“How are we going to get into the building then? This is a real FortKnox if you don’t have the code or the keys,” she noted.DETECTIVE INSPECTOR HUSS 9Superintendent Andersson didn’t seem to be listening; for a longwhile he stood, lost in thought. Finally he took a deep breath and said,“It’s going to take some time before the superintendent at headquartersgets hold of the prosecutor and gets his permission for a search warrant.In the meantime I’ll just have to stay here and wait for the warrantand a locksmith. HQ will also have to track down the phone numberof someone in this building who can let us in. Maybe you could driveup to Sahlgren Hospital and check on how the wife and son are doing.My first thought was to borrow the key from the wife so we don’t haveto damage their lovely front door.”A weary and bitter undertone revealed that Andersson was moreaffected by the events than he would admit.“Okay, I’ll run up to emergency. The car keys, please,” she said.Irene reached out her hand and took the keys, still warm from hispocket. She walked off toward the old Volvo.AS USUAL, finding a parking place was hopeless, even thoughevening visiting hours at the hospital were almost over. Huss showedher police ID to the guard and was allowed to drive in. That didn’talways happen when the police showed up in plainclothes anddidn’t have someone in the car who needed patching up.Since it was a normal Tuesday evening and still relatively early, itwas quiet in the big emergency room. Irene went up to the nurses’counter and saw a blond male nurse sitting there, talking on the telephone.They had met several times before in the line of duty. He wavedcheerfully in acknowledgment and signaled that he’d be off the phonesoon.Irene looked around. Right outside the counter was an elderly manon a gurney. His face was a horrible shade of gray; she could hardly seehis lips in that pale face. He lay there with his eyes closed and didn’tseem to be conscious of his surroundings. On a chair next to him sata short, plump woman patting his arm unceasingly. She was snifflingquietly but didn’t speak to him. Over by the waiting room a youth satwith a wad of bloody paper towels wrapped around his hand. An oldergentleman whom Irene recognized from the “A-team” bench inBrunnsparken lay snoring loudly on a gurney. He didn’t seem to be insuch bad shape because the blood around the gash on his forehead hadalready started to congeal. A young woman sat stiffly on her chair staringinto space. Except for the old man’s snoring it was almost peacefulin the ER.10 Helene TurstenNurse Roland finished his phone call and waved Huss over from thecorridor with a blithe “Hi there, Irene! Long time no see! I bet I canguess why you’re here.”“Hi! Have you seen Fru von Knecht and her son?”“I sure have. The medics came in and brought me out to the ambulance.They had a feeling that it was probably best to take her straightto Psych. And in the condition she was in, I agreed with them.”“How did the son look?”“He just sat there staring into space. Of course he’s had a great shocktoo. Would you like a quick cup of coffee before you dash off?”Roland gestured invitingly toward the employees’ lounge. Irene couldfeel her body longing for a cup of coffee but declined. Time was passing.She started to walk toward the exit as an odd figure came throughthe double doors. He was tall and incredibly skinny. His rat-coloredhair was thin and straggled down the back of his leather jacket. Onhis feet he wore a pair of indescribably dirty and ragged jogging shoes,and only his jeans could compete with them in filthiness. His thighlengthleather jacket was of a sixties design and had probably beenbought at the Salvation Army or picked out of a Dumpster after someonehad cleaned out an attic. But it wasn’t his slovenly clothing, whichhad seen a few too many winters, that made Irene gape.His skin was so yellow that it was almost greenish. The guy had jaundiceof the most fulminating kind. Without a word the yellow-skinnedman ripped off his jacket. The front of his T-shirt was drenched withblood. His stony pupils, surrounded by the sulfur-yellow whites of hiseyes, stared straight at the inspector. He grabbed hold of the bottomof his T-shirt and pulled it up.Then Irene yelled, “Roland! Hurry! Roland!”Nurse Roland stuck his head out the door of the nurses’ station. Aftermore than ten years on the job in the ER, he had no problem evaluatingthe situation instantly.“Damn, that’s a loop of intestine hanging out his belly!”He dashed back into the station. Irene heard him yell on the intercom,“. . . abdomen slashed open. He’s a walking case of HIV andhepatitis!”He bolted like a shot out the door. On the way he swept on a yellowprotective coat, plastic gloves, and a pair of safety glasses. Just ashe reached the stabbing victim, the man’s eyes turned upward and rolledinto his skull as he collapsed onto the floor.DETECTIVE INSPECTOR HUSS 11Down the corridor quick steps were heard approaching. The emergencypersonnel walked as fast as they could while trying to pull onsome protective gear.With a careful evasive maneuver the inspector slunk out into theblack November damp. Now it felt good to be outside in the cold. Thewind had let up and the rain hung like an icy fog in the air. She wentover to her car and drove through the hospital grounds.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Detective Inspector Huss“An absorbing, intelligent mystery that holds its own alongside the best feminine hardboiled novels currently being written.”—Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post Book World“Add the voice of Helene Tursten to the list of mystery writers who know how to craft a truly satisfying police procedural.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer“[Tursten] imbues this novel with a cold chill of dread that can’t be attributed only to the subfreezing temperatures of Göteborg in winter.”—Chicago Sun-Times“An intriguing portrait of the workings of a murder squad as well as modern Swedish life.” —Portsmouth Herald