"The Discreet Charm of the Big Bad Wolf" by Alexander McCall Smith is a thoroughly enjoyable excursion into the author's slightly off-beat world of Malmö's Department of Sensitive Crimes. I suspect this particular section of the Swedish police is one that might not be recognised by anyone familiar with its real-world organisation. But that is very much the point. The interplay between a real setting and whimsical and slightly surreal characters and plot adds a certain other-worldliness to the story that helps the reader simply sit back, let go and make the most of the ride. This is helped by the author's style, which might variously be described as "accomplished", "smooth" and "comfortable". There's nothing here that jars or gets in the way of the story, and that's exactly what Alexander McCall Smith's legion of fans have come to expect of him. If you like his writing you are in very good company: and you will certainly enjoy this book.
To avoid giving too much away of the plot, we'll rely on the publisher's blurb: "In the hilarious new novel in the best-selling Detective Varg series, Ulf Varg will need to resolve both a sensitive crime and his own delicate dilemma in the hopes of preserving the peace. The Department of Sensitive Crimes is downsizing in light of a recent downturn of sensitive crime, and staff members are wondering who among them will be transferred elsewhere. As the bickering between colleagues intensifies, Ulf tries his best to stay above the fray. But when Anna, a longtime friend and coworker, appears to blame him for an old case that went sideways, it seems she may be putting her own job prospects above their friendship. In the midst of all this, Ulf embarks on an important inquiry: a man's cabin has mysteriously disappeared and Ulf is tasked with finding out what happened. How exactly does one steal a house? And, more to the point, how does one track down a stolen house? Meanwhile, a promising veterinary treatment for deafness in dogs has been announced, and Ulf's dog, Martin, might be the perfect patient. This latest novel is another masterful, farcical installment in the series that defines the genre that Alexander McCall Smith is singlehandedly championing: Scandi blanc."
People read books for many reasons and high amongst them is the desire to be entertained. As an author Alexander McCall Smith is an entertainer par excellence, and "The Discreet Charm of the Big Bad Wolf" shows his approach off at its best.