Category Archives: Helene Tursten

You’ve Got a Friend in Me*

BuddiesOne of the more popular kinds of films is the ‘buddy film.’ In that sort of film there are two protagonists, and the film explores their friendship while at the same time featuring a separate plot. Some ‘buddy films’ are cop films (e.g. Walter Hill’s 48 Hours). Others are ‘road films’ (e.g. Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise). There are other variants on the theme too of course. Over the years it’s been a successful premise for a film, and we see it a lot in crime fiction too.

You’ll notice in this post that I won’t be talking about series such as Reginald Hill’s Dalziel/Pascoe series, where the two protagonists are superior/subordinate. I’m also not going to focus on novels where there’s a possible or budding romance between the two protagonists. To me, that’s a different dynamic. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some ‘buddy’ crime fiction.

One of the earlier examples of this sort of dynamic is G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown and Hercule Flambeau. When they first meet in The Blue Cross, Flambeau is a master jewel thief. In that story, Father Brown is en route to a large gathering of priests. He’s carrying with him a large silver cross set with sapphires, a most attractive prize for a thief like Flambeau. Father Brown finds an interesting way to deal with Flambeau and as the stories go on, we see how the two men form a friendship. They respect each other and later, they solve cases together. It’s an interesting dynamic, and readers can see how that dynamic evolves as the stories go on.

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot works with Chief Inspector Japp on several cases. As we learn in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, they’ve known each other for some time, too – since before Poirot left his native Belgium for England. Poirot is certainly not modest when it comes to his own abilities, but he respects Japp. And he knows Japp has access to resources and information that he, Poirot, doesn’t have. So he doesn’t really treat Japp as a sidekick. For his part, Japp pokes fun at Poirot’s ‘tortuous mind,’ and he isn’t blind to Poirot’s faults. But he respects Poirot’s brilliance as a detective. The two do develop a friendship over the course of the novels, and they depend on each other’s expertise.

Another interesting ‘buddy series’ is Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delalware/Milo Sturgis novels. Delaware is a forensic psychologist with a former career as a psychotherapist. Sturgis is a cop with the LAPD. Beginning with When the Bough Breaks, the two work together on cases where Delaware’s expertise is needed. In that novel, psychiatrist Morton Handler and his lover Elena Gutierrez are found murdered. The key to the murder may lie with seven-year-old Melody Quinn, who was a witness. So Sturgis asks Delaware to work with Melody to help her remember as much as she can. The murders turn out to be related to some of the characters’ past histories, and to some things going on at an orphanage. Over the course of the novels, Delaware and Sturgis maintain their friendship although it is tested at times. They rely on one another and they trust each other.

There’s also Craig Johnson’ Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear. Fans of this series will know that Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Henry Standing Bear is a member of the Cheyenne Nation, and also the owner of The Red Pony, a local bar/restaurant.  The two men have been friends for a long time – since both served in Viet Nam. There are times when they don’t agree, and sometimes they annoy each other. But underneath, they trust each other, quite literally, with their lives. They get in more than one extremely dangerous situation together, and as the series goes on, we also see how they depend on one another.

We see an interesting case of the ‘buddy’ theme in Helene Tursten’s The Glass Devil. Göteborg police inspector Irene Huss and her team are investigating the bizarre multiple murders of Jacob Schyttelius and his parents. At first, it looks as though the murders might be the work of a Satanist group. But that theory is soon disproved. Another very real possibility is that the murders were committed by someone with an animus against the whole family. If that’s true, then Jacob’s sister Rebecka may be in danger. So Huss travels to London, where Rebecka Schyttelius works with a computer development company. While there, Huss works with Met police inspector Glen Thompson. Thompson has local connections, local authority, and access to information that Huss needs. For her part, Huss has particulars of the case at hand. So the two complement each other as they combine forces. It turns out that that co-operation is important, since the key to this case is in the Schyttelius family’s past as well as Rebecka’s life in London. In the course of the novel, Huss and Thompson do develop a friendship, and we can see how they learn to work together.

There’s also an interesting case of a ‘buddy’ crime novel in Anya Lipska’s Where the Devil Can’t Go. Janusz Kiszka is an unofficial ‘fixer’ in London’s Polish community. So when Father Piotr Pietruzki hears of some disturbing news, Kiszka is the man he trusts. It seems that a young woman named Weronika, who hasn’t been in London very long, has recently disappeared. So Kiszka agrees to ask some questions and see what he can learn. Weronika was last seen with a boyfriend Pawel Adamski, so Kiszka and his friend Oskar begin to trace the couple. In the meantime, DC Natalie Kershaw and DS Alvin ‘Streaky’ Bacon are investigating two murders that turn out to be related to Weronika’s disappearance. In the course of the investigation, Kershaw meets Kiszka, first considering him a suspect, and then as a sort of ally, as she investigates. And that relationship is in itself interesting. So is the ‘buddy’ relationship between Kiszka and his friend Oskar. The two have known each other for some time. They’re drinking and card-playing buddies, and in the course of this novel, they also work together on Weronika’s disappearance.

There are of course lots of other solid ‘buddy’ series and novels (I know, I know, fans of Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury/Melrose Plant novels). Which ones do you like best?

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Randy Newman

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Anya Lipska, Craig Johnson, G.K. Chesterton, Helene Tursten, Jonathan Kellerman, Martha Grimes

Ritual*

RitualsHuman beings are remarkably resilient. A lot of us can manage quite a lot of stress and unhappiness and survive. A lovely post from Lesley Fletcher has got me thinking about how we make sense of the unpleasant things that happen to us, so we can go on. Now, I’ll stop for a moment so you can visit Lesley’s excellent blog and see for yourself what a skilled writer she is.

Right. Making sense of the sorrow that happens to us. Lesley’s post dealt with ritual (in this case religious ritual) as a way to help a person contemplate and deal with the sorrow that loss causes. She’s right; rituals can be really helpful. They don’t have to be religious, either. And since crime fiction so often includes characters who’ve suffered great loss and have had their lives upended, it makes sense that we’d see a lot of those comforting rituals in the genre.

For instance, in Agatha Christie’s The Hollow, the family of Sir Henry and Lady Lucy Angkatell is rocked when a weekend guest Dr. John Christow is shot. Hercule Poirot was invited for lunch on the day of the murder, so he arrives on the scene just after the killing. He and Inspector Grange work together to find out who killed Christow and why. And as Poirot gets to know the various members of Christow’s circle, he finds that more than one of them had a motive. One of the interesting things about this novel is the way little rituals are still maintained, and seem to help people deal with the murder. Luncheon is still served, although it’s a modified, subdued meal. Plans are made for the evening meal. Newspapers are still read. And it’s those small reminders that there is a sane world somewhere that help everyone to deal with the reality that someone everyone knows has just been killed.

In Alexander McCall Smith’s Tears of the Giraffe, we meet American ex-pat Andrea Curtin. She and her husband and their son Michael lived in Botswana for a few years while her husband was there on business. Michael fell in love with the place and decided to stay behind when his parents returned to the United States. He joined an eco-commune and all went well at first. Then, his parents got the terrible news that he’d disappeared. The official police report was that probably he lost his way and a wild animal got to him. It’s not an unlikely scenario either. Now, ten years on, Andrea has returned to Botswana. She wants to find out what happened to Michael and let go if I may put it that way by being able to lay him to rest. So she hires Mma. Precious Ramotswe to help her find the truth. Mma. Ramotswe agrees and slowly works her way through the history of the members of the eco-commune. It’s interesting how in this novel, greeting rituals and later, the simple ritual of a cup of bush tea help both women to deal with the case. And it’s easy to understand why Andrea wants the closure that a burial ritual can offer. She wants to make sense of what happened to her son.

Very often, witnesses are uncomfortable about talking to the police, even if they are completely innocent of any wrongdoing. Sometimes they feel more relaxed and able to think matters through if they have some ritual to fall back on while they’re thinking. There’s an example of what I mean by that in Helene Tursten’s  Detective Inspector Huss. Göteborg police detective Irene Huss and her team are investigating the death of wealthy financier Richard von Knecht, who was pushed (or jumped, or fell) to his death from his penthouse balcony. It’s not long before forensic evidence establishes that he was murdered, so Huss and her team want to talk to any witnesses who might have seen something. One of them is Fru Eva Karlsson. She happened to be on the street near the scene of von Knecht’s death, so she may have valuable information. Huss definitely wants to interview her and makes an appointment to come to Fru Karlsson’s home. But she knows that rushing Fru Karlsson or intimidating her won’t be productive. For Eva Karlsson, the ritual of providing coffee and pastry (lots, and lots of pastry) is an important part of sorting out her thoughts and telling her story reasonably. Huss leaves the interview a little overstuffed with food, but the ritual is worth it for her because it’s the way she is able to connect with this witness. 

In Karin Fossum’s Don’t Look Back, Oslo police detective Konrad Sejer and his assistant Jacob Skarre investigate the murder of fifteen-year-old Annie Holland, whose body is found by a tarn near her village. Annie was well-liked in the village, and there are no defensive wounds or signs of rape. So the conclusion is that she was killed by someone she knew and probably trusted. That means that Sejer and Skarre have the thankless task of going through everyone in the village to find out who would have wanted to kill Annie and why. In the meantime, Annie’s father Eddie has to deal with the sudden, awful loss of his child. He exists in a mental haze in a way as Sejer and Skarre go through their investigation, but he tries to help. And in the end, he finds comfort in the ritual of preparing for Annie’s funeral. Those preparations help him to make what sense he can of her death and imagine himself going on.

In William Kent Kreuger’s Ordinary Grace, thirteen-year-old Frank Drum and his younger brother Jake are growing up in 1961 New Bremen, Minnesota. One awful summer, they come face to face with death as a boy they know is killed on a railroad track. Everyone thinks it was an accident, but there are some things that suggest it wasn’t. Then there’s another death. And then another death strikes tragically close to home for Frank. His world begins to more or less turn upside down as he has to cope with the terrible reality of sudden death. It doesn’t help matters that he’s also coping with the changes that accompany the beginning of adolescence. In the end though, part of what keeps the Drum family going on is the ritual of saying grace and making music. It’s those rituals in part that allow Frank to focus, make sense of what’s happened and put his world back together a little.

And it’s not just religious ritual or even a lengthy formal ritual that helps us make sense of things. In more than one novel in Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn series, the Navajo ritual of introducing oneself helps everyone make sense of who people are and where they fit in. And Chee uses that more than once as he investigates cases. And in Angela Savage’s series featuring Bangkok-based PI Jayne Keeney, it’s the wai, or Thai greeting, that establishes relationships among people and helps them make sense of things.

Whether it’s as simple (but important) as a greeting, or as complex as planning a religious service, rituals help us impose a little order on what can sometimes seem like a very chaotic situation.

Thanks, Lesley, for the inspiration!

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Journey.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Alexander McCall Smith, Angela Savage, Helene Tursten, Karin Fossum, Tony Hillerman, William Kent Krueger

Talk That Talk*

Code SwitchingOne of the important skills that sleuths need to develop is the ability to communicate effectively. That seems like a blatantly obvious point to make, but if you think about it, communication is a key part of what sleuths do. They have to communicate with witnesses, suspects, the family of the crime victim, colleagues, superiors and more. The challenge of course is that we all speak differently and many of us speak different languages. So a sleuth who can speak more than one language and switch languages when necessary has a real advantage. In linguistics, moving from one language to another is called code switching, and we see it in crime fiction more than you’d think. I’ll just give you a few examples; I’m quite certain you’ll be able to give me many more than I could suggest.

Fans of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot will know that he is multilingual. His first language is Belgian French, but he is also fluent in English. And in several novels that feature Poirot, he code switches as it’s necessary. In Murder on the Orient Express for instance, he is traveling back to London on the famous Orient Express train when he gets caught up in a murder investigation. A fellow passenger Samuel Ratchett has been stabbed and Poirot and M. Bouc, a director of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons Lits, have to search among the passengers for the killer. Interestingly (‘though not surprisingly) the passengers speak a number of different languages including English, French, Swedish, German and Italian. So Poirot has to code switch frequently as he interviews them. In the end, it’s what the witnesses tell him and what the evidence shows that helps Poirot figure out the truth. 

In the case of Poirot, he code switches in order to be comprehensible to others. But there are other reasons we might switch codes. One of them is to identify with or express solidarity with one or another group.  We see that in M.J. McGrath’s White Heat. One of McGrath’s protagonists is hunting guide Edie Kiglatuk. She’s half Inuit and for the most part, that’s how she self-identifies. She speaks English and uses that language with people who don’t speak Inuktitut, but she is also a native speaker of Inuktitut, and uses that language too. Edie gets embroiled in a case of multiple murder and greed when one of the men she’s leading on an expedition is shot. At first the police and the council of Elders puts it down as a tragic accident, but Edie isn’t sure of that. She’s even more convinced it was murder when there’s a second death. Throughout this novel we see her code switching as she talks to various people. She finds that skill quite useful when her investigation takes her from her own Ellesmere Island community to Greenland.

Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee also code switches and quite frequently it’s to express solidarity as much as anything else. A member of the Navajo Nation, he is a native speaker of that language and he self-identifies that way. So when he is investigating cases, he speaks to other members of the Navajo Nation in Navajo. Using Navajo in those situations also makes Navajo-speaking witnesses more comfortable speaking to Chee, so he’s able to learn more from his interviews than would a cop who only spoke American English. At the same time, Chee, like most Native Americans, is a fluent speaker of English. He uses that language when he communicates with non-Navajo witnesses, suspects and colleagues, and it proves very useful of course in novels such as Talking God, where Chee travels off the Reservation.

Travel is also the reason for which Helene Tursten’s Inspector Irene Huss code switches. She is based in Göteborg, so her first language is Swedish. But she code switches when the situation calls for it. For example, in The Torso, Huss makes use of her Danish when a lead on an unknown dead man takes her to Copenhagen. In this case, Huss finds that code switching is very much worth the effort, but effort it can be:

 

‘It was unbelievably tiring always having to strain to understand Danish…Up to now, she had managed pretty well, but it wasn’t always easy. Especially when people spoke Danish quickly.’

 

Huss also makes use of her English from time to time. In The Glass Devil for instance, she travels to London to track down a member of a Swedish family that seems to be targeted by a killer. In Huss’ case, it’s a matter of code switching for the purpose of being understood, and it’s interesting to see how she accomplishes it.

And then there’s Angela Savage’s Jayne Keeney. Keeney is an Australian ex-pat who lives and works in Bangkok. She’s also spent time in France. So besides her native Australian English, Keeney is fluent in Thai and also speaks French. Being able to code switch sometimes turns out to be extremely useful for her. As an example, in The Half Child, Keeney has tracked down a lead in the investigation of an untimely death. Maryanne Delbeck was an Australian volunteer in a Pattaya children’s home when she jumped (or was pushed, or fell) from the roof of the building where she lived. Keeney’s been hired by Maryanne’s father Jim to find out what really happened to his daughter. Her search leads to a bar where she ends up playing pool with some American soldiers, one of whom has important information she needs. For that encounter she uses her English. But shortly thereafter she needs to make a hasty retreat. She escapes to another part of the bar, where some young Thai women are getting ready to do a show. She quickly code switches to Thai, and that allows her to hide herself just long enough to get out of trouble.

There are a lot of other examples too of fictional sleuths who find that code switching can be a very effective tool for solving cases. And as a side note, I think it’s worth mentioning that code switching is (at least in my opinion) best integrated into a novel when the author refers to it without using a lot of words in another language that readers may not understand. In other words, code switching that doesn’t interrupt the pace and flow of the story, or pull the reader out of it.  See now? Don’t you wish you’d paid more attention in your foreign language classes??  ;-)

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Van Morrison’s Walk and Talk.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Angela Savage, Helene Tursten, M.J. McGrath, Tony Hillerman

Nosy Pokes Will Peek Through Their Shutters and Their Eyes Will Pop*

BusybodiesWhen police investigate a crime, one of the things they spend a lot of time doing is talking to neighbours and other witnesses. And in most cases, somebody has seen something. That’s one reason why the police find so useful the kind of witness who looks out windows, pays attention to other people’s doings – in short, a busybody. There really are people in real life who notice everything going on in the block and who can let you know who comes, who goes and when. And of course, the busybody is a staple of crime fiction. I’ve only space for a few examples; I’m sure you’ll be able to think of far more.

In Agatha Christie’s The Clocks, special agent Colin Lamb is following up a lead on a case in the town of Crowdean. He’s especially interested in a neighbourhood called Wilbraham Crescent, which is where he is when a young woman named Sheila Webb runs out of one of the houses screaming that there’s a dead man inside. Lamb goes into the house to find out that she’s right. The dead man has no identification and nobody seems to know him. What’s more, none of the neighbours seems to have seen anything helpful. There are a few odd little facts about the case, so Lamb takes it to his father’s friend Hercule Poirot. Poirot takes an interest in the case and puts the pieces of it together. The one piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fit into place at first is exactly how the dead man got into the house. Lamb gets unexpected help in that matter from ten-year-old Geraldine Brown, who lives in a flat right across the way from the crescent. She’s laid up with a broken leg and spends a lot of time looking out her window with an opera glass. It turns out that her observations are both detailed and useful…

In Ruth Rendell’s Simisola, Inspector Reg Wexford and his team have several cases on their hands that turn out to be related. One of them is the case of the strangling murder of Annette Bystock, who was home sick when she was killed in her bed. She worked at the local Employment Bureau, but no-one there had a grudge against her or a real motive for murder. There are very few clues as to who killed her or why, but Wexford thinks her death may related to the disappearance of twenty-two-year-old Melanie Akande. Melanie disappeared shortly after a meeting with Bystock at the Bureau and hasn’t been seen since. In making the rounds of the neighbours, Wexford’s colleague Mike Burden meets retiree Percy Hammond, who lives next door to the victim and spends a lot of time looking out his window. Hammond is able to give Burden and the team some valuable information which they’re later able to put into the larger perspective of the case.

One plot thread in Andrea Camilleri’s The Snack Thief concerns the murder of retired business executive Aurelio Lapècora. He’s killed one morning in the elevator of his apartment building and of course, none of the neighbours admits to seeing anything. Little by little, Inspector Salvo Montalbano connects that murder with the case of a Tunisian sailor who was shot while working on an Italian fishing boat, and a young boy who seems to have no family and no history. One of the keys to this case is a set of things that happened at Lapècora’s office, which he visited from time to time although he was officially retired. And that’s where Clemintina Vasile Cozzo comes in handy. She’s a retired teacher who’s not in good health and doesn’t always sleep nights. And because she’s still curious about the world, she looks out her window and watches what happens. And she’s got some valuable information to share with Montalbno. 

Helene Tursten’s Detective Inspector Huss introduces us to Sven Andersson and the Violent Crimes Unit of Göteborg’s police force. The team investigates the death of financier Richard von Knecht, who jumped (or fell, or was pushed) off the balcony of his penthouse. One of the witnesses is Fru Eva Karlsson, who was standing not far from where the body landed. So Inspector Irene Huss takes the time to go and visit her. Fru Karlsson is a widow without much opportunity for socialising, so she’s delighted to have a visitor. On the one hand, the interview takes a lot of Huss’ time, and what’s more, Fru Karlsson is overgenerous with the pastries and coffee she offers (Yes, there is such a thing ;-) ). On the other, she is an observant person who spends a lot of time noticing what goes on outside her window. So she has valuable information to offer.

Sometimes busybodies can also be interesting ‘regulars’ in, especially, cosy mysteries. In Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Myrtle Clover series for instance, we meet Erma Sherman. She lives next door to retired school teacher Myrtle Clover in small-town Bradley, North Carolina.  Erma means well – she really does – but she has taken it upon herself to look after Myrtle, something that the independent Myrtle does not always appreciate. Erma pays attention to everything she sees Myrtle do, mostly by peeking through her curtains. It gets very aggravating sometimes, but there are advantages to living next door to Erma. For instance, in Pretty is as Pretty Dies, Myrtle borrows Erma’s car as she pursues her own investigation into the murder of a successful but malicious real estate developer.

We may get annoyed by people who don’t mind their own business. But the reality is, the police depend on folks like that to give them valuable information about cases. And if you think about novels such as Cath Staincliffe’s Split Second, where there’s a good argument that someone should have minded others’ business, you see that busybodies have an important role to play.

 

Wait – hold on a sec – I think I just saw my neighbour leaving. Wonder where she’s going… ;-)

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Surrey With the Fringe on Top.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Andrea Camilleri, Cath Staincliffe, Elzabeth Spann Craig, Helene Tursten, Ruth Rendell

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction: X-Rays and Other Medical Procedures

X-Rays and Medical ProceduresThe Crime Fiction Alphabet meme is in the closing weeks of our dangerous trip through the letters. Thanks as ever go to Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise for keeping us all together and safe – well, to this point anyway… ;-)  X marks the spot where we’ve stopped this week. The X-El Health Centre, that is. Oh, no need to worry; everyone’s just fine. But the good folks at X-El were kind enough to invite us for a tour, since so many crime fiction novels take place in medical facilities. Everyone’s interested in seeing what really goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in such places, and is getting questions ready. While the others are deciding what to ask, I’ll make my contribution for this stop: X-Rays and other medical procedures.

Most health care professionals work very hard to ensure that all goes well during any procedure. But you never know what can happen even if there’s no malicious intent. And when there is, well, anything is possible. Just have a look at these examples from crime fiction and you’ll see what I mean.

In Agatha Christie’s One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (AKA The Patriotic Murders and An Overdose of Death), Hercule Poirot and Chief Inspector Japp investigate the shooting death of a dentist Henry Morley. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why anyone would want to kill him, as he had no obvious enemies and no fortune to leave. One possibility is that someone was trying to get to one of Morley’s patients Alistair Blunt, and that makes sense. Blunt is a powerful banker who’s made several political enemies. But then, one of Morley’s other patients Mr. Amberiotis is found dead of an overdose of anaesthetic. So another possibility is that Morley made a tragic mistake with the amount of anaesthetic he gave his patient during the procedure, and killed himself as a result. Then another of Morley’s patients disappears. Now it’s clear that much more is going on at Henry Morley’s surgery than anyone thought possible…

Christianna Brand’s Green For Danger takes place mostly at Heron Park Hospital, which has been converted to a military facility for wartime use. Postman Jospeh Higgins has been brought to the hospital with a broken femur. He’s scheduled for a fairly routine procedure in which his leg will be set and treated. The operation turns out to be anything but routine though, and Higgins dies during the surgery. At first, his death is put down to tragic accident. Inspector Cockrill of the Kent County Police is called in to make an official report, and it’s not long before he begins to wonder about Higgins’ death. First Higgins’ widow suggests he was murdered, then other little hints surface. One night at a party, Sister Marion Bates has too much to drink and blurts out that she knows Higgins was murdered. She also says she knows how it was done. Later that night, she is found stabbed in the operating theatre and her body displayed in a very theatrical fashion. Now it’s clearer than ever to Cockrill that Higgins was murdered, and he slowly finds out what the connections were between all of the suspects and Higgins, and he gets to the truth about the killer.

MP Sir Derek O’Callaghan finds out how dangerous medical procedures can be in Ngaio Marsh’s The Nursing Home Murder. He’s about to introduce the Anarchy Bill, which would allow for strong action against those identified as anarchists. This of course earns him some strong support, but at the same time, it makes him some powerful enemies. Sir Derek also makes personal enemies. For instance, he has a short fling with a nurse Jane Harden, who isn’t nearly as willing to pass the whole thing off as he is. And one of her admirers is Sir Derek’s own physician Sir John Phillips. When Sir Derek has a severe case of abdominal pain, he is rushed at his wife’s insistence to Sir John’s private nursing home, where he undergoes surgery. When he dies during the procedure, it’s thought at first that this was a tragic but accidental death. But soon enough, Sir Roderick Alleyn begins to suspect otherwise and starts a more serious investigation. And a reconstruction of the surgical procedure helps Alleyn figure exactly who killed the victim and how.

In Michael Crichton’s A Case of Need, which he wrote as Jeffery Hudson, Boston pathologist Dr. John Berry gets mixed up in a very dangerous case. His good friend Albert Lee has been arrested for performing a then-illegal abortion on Karen Randall. The procedure went wrong and the patient died of complications. What’s more, Karen Randall was the daughter of J.D. Randall, one of the most influential doctors at Boston’s Memorial Hospital, where both Berry and Lee work. Lee insists that he’s innocent and is being framed because he’s Asian-American. Berry isn’t sure of that, but he does know that there are some questions about what really happened. There is a great deal of pressure to let Lee be the scapegoat for this death, but Berry is loyal to his friend and what’s more, he’s scientifically interested in what happened. He begins to investigate and finds out that Karen had a secret life quite apart from her life as the ‘blueblood’ daughter of a powerful doctor. He also finds out that this case is mired in power politics and cover-ups. In the end, Berry uncovers what really happened to the victim, but not before he himself becomes a target.

A good deal of the action in Helene Tursten’s Night Rounds takes place at the Löwander Hospital, a private facility. One night there’s a blackout at the hospital during which one of the nurses Marianne Svärd is murdered. What’s more, the blackout has cut off the respirator providing oxygen to one of the patients Nils Peterzén. He’d been a patient of special concern anyway, because there were complications in the operation he had. The Göteborg Violent Crimes Unit is looking into the nurse’s murder and the patient’s death when another nurse Linda Svensson disappears. Her body is later found in an unused attic of the hospital, in the same place where, fifty years earlier, another nurse hung herself. Now the team has to find out who would have wanted to kill Peterzén and the two nurses.

You see? Surgical procedures usually save lives. But they aren’t always safe. And did you notice that I didn’t mention any of the many medical thrillers in which surgical or after-surgery procedures go murderously wrong. Too easy! ;-)   Now, if you’re ready, we’ll head over to the health centre. Won’t it be fascinating to see some of what they do there???  ;-)

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Christianna Brand, Helene Tursten, Jeffery Hudson, Michael Crichton, Ngaio Marsh