|Goteborg, Sweden may not be a hotbed of crime, but when the lights go out at Lowander Hospital and the generator fails, a patient dies. Detective Inspector Irene Huss of the Violent Crimes Unit is called to the scene only to learn that the death of a patient is not the only problem that confronts her. A nurse is found dead in the room that contains the controls for the electricity and the generator. It is obvious that a murder has been committed but which of the two, patient or nurse, was the intended victim? Were they both the object of same perpetrator?
As Detective Huss takes control of the investigation she learns two important pieces of information. An elderly nurse was a witness to the crime, whom she can identify, but the person she saw is a nurse that died many years before and is said to haunt the hospital. The second and perhaps more disturbing piece of information is that another nurse is missing.
As Irene delves deeper and begins to uncover facts which may be relevant to the crime she learns that the hospital is on shaky ground financially. One of the doctors, who is also the owner of the facility, has decided to sell the building, forcing all of the staff to find other employment. This tidbit of information only increases the list of potential suspects.
Helene Tursten is no stranger to the medical community having formerly worked as a nurse and dentist. Her knowledge of Swedish medical practices, and hospitals comes first hand or through associates in that community. She is a native of the city in which her crime series is based. Though this is not the first of her series to be translated into English, she is sure to become better known across the pond with this addition to her repertoire.
Although Goteborg is not the largest city in Sweden, it is rather striking that Inspector Huss has no other crimes to distract her attention from this case. Admittedly, there are at least three deaths associated with the situation and some of the wealthier elements of society are eager to have the case solved. She does a thorough job of examining all the evidence and draws logical conclusions.
Some of the characters seem a bit stereotypical. The doctor who has an arrangement with his wife such that as long as he stays married to her so she can retain her status in society, he is free to pursue relationships with other women. He himself is a product a sketchy relationship that no one even those who are close to him really understands.
Irene, while a competent investigator who is dogged in her pursuit of justice, does not manage to get hard evidence against the perpetrator even though she and her staff are convinced of the person's guilt. She resorts to what is supposed to be a setup for the perpetrator to illicit a confession. That her suspect who is portrayed as an intelligent, calculating individual would fall for such a ruse requires a great leap of faith on the part of the reader. The motivation, execution of the crimes, and capture of the perpetrator rings true, but the confession is a letdown in an otherwise excellent novel.