THE FIRE DANCE: HELENE TURSTEN trans LAURA A. WIDEBURG

Posted: February 18, 2014 in Brazil, review, Scandinavia, Scotland, Sweden

51OADLTxBaL._I requested an ARC of The Fire Dance by Helene Tursten because I had enjoyed the first book in the series, Detective Inspector Huss. The Fire Dance is number six in this series set in Goteborg, Sweden’s second largest city.

I was a little surprised to see that a blurb from NPR’s Fresh Air on the back cover stating that this ‘mystery holds its own alongside the best feminine hard-boiled novels currently being written by Englishwomen Val McDermid and Liza Cody….’.

Is this the first time that Val McDermid from Kirkcaldy, Fife [a lifelong Raith Rovers supporter along with Ian Rankin and ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown] ever been called an Englishwoman? 

Fifteen years before the main events in The Fire Dance Irene Huss was asked to question a child Sophie Malmborg, whose stepfather had been burned to death in a fire. The theory was that Irene, a mother with twin daughters, would relate better to the young girl, but Sophie would not talk to anyone and the case was shelved and the fire explained as the stepfather falling asleep with a cigarette.

Now fifteen years later Sophie, aged 26, has been found dead, burned by fire after having disappeared for three weeks. Irene still happily married to chef Krister with teenage twins , Jenny and Katerina is assigned the case. There are several sub plots involving a gang war involving Hell’s Angels, who are mostly from Latin America, Irene’s worries about her daughters, and rather long accounts of the relationships and activities of Sophie’s dysfunctional family. 

Sophie is a dancer and has choreographed a ballet called The Fire Dance which has moves from the Brazilian dance and combat system capoeira. Does this hold the solution to the present murder and the case in the past? 

The Fire Dance was a fairly good police procedural with a lot of detail about Irene’s family life, but sadly this book was a disappointment to me because the plot was frankly a bit thin. My attention frequently wavered onto the Winter Olympics, and the terrible weather. Perhaps I have just read too much crime fiction with too many dysfunctional Swedish families. This one had little tension, and seemingly several characters were inserted  just to pad out the predictable narrative. I am sure that several books 2-5 in the Irene Huss series are better reads than The Fire Dance, but when a book contains the sentence:

“What’s a suppository?” asked the Superintendent. 

I think there is either something wrong with the translation, or the Goteborg Murder Squad live a very sheltered life. 

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Comments
  1. Norman – Sorry to hear you weren’t more drawn in to this one. I happen to like the Tursten series very much, and I’m hoping that if you read some of the other books, you’ll enjoy them more. Of course, I confess to bias here, but still…

  2. Jose Ignacio says:

    Thanks for your review Norman. You’ve made me laugh with your final remark. Lovely.

  3. A helpful, honest and funny review….

  4. Norman Price says:

    Thanks Margot- I think I should have read this series in order then perhaps I might have enjoyed it more.

    Thanks Moira and Jose Ignacio- I am pleased that I made you laugh, unfortunately there weren’t many real laughs in the book.

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