Tursten, Helene 1954–

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Tursten, Helene 1954–


Born 1954, in Göteborg, Sweden.


Home—Sunne/Vaermland, Sweden.


Writer. Previously worked as a nurse and a dentist.


Den krossade tanghästen, [Sweden], 1998, translation by Steven T. Murray published as Detective Inspector Huss, Soho Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Nattrond (title means "Do the Round at Night"), [Sweden], 1999.

Tatuerad torso, [Sweden], 2000, published as The Torso, Soho Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Glasdjävulen, [Sweden], 2002, published as The Glass Devil, Soho Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Kvinnan i hissen, (short stories), AlfabetaAnamma (Stockholm, Sweden), 2003.

Guldkalven, [Sweden], 2004.

Eldsdansen, [Sweden], 2005.

En man med litet ansikte, [Sweden], 2007.


The author's books have been adapted for films and a television series.


Police procedurals are as popular in Europe as they are in America, and Swedish author Helene Tursten has written a series of them based in her hometown of Göteborg. Her series heroine is Inspector Irene Huss, a forty-something mother of twins who is also a judo expert and a detective with the city homicide department. In her debut novel, translated as Detective Inspector Huss, the likable policewoman is drawn into a difficult murder investigation that spirals into a web of multiple slayings, bombed buildings, and a tangle of connections between some of Sweden's top businessmen and dangerous gangs of drug dealers and neo-Nazi skinheads. Irene's life is further challenged by her daughter's unsavory boyfriend and by thinly veiled sexism among her colleagues.

In his Booklist review of Detective Inspector Huss, Bill Ott noted that the Swedish milieu "forms a compelling backdrop for the story." A Kirkus Reviews contributor liked the characters, noting that they provide "a strong group to root for." A critic for Publishers Weekly praised Inspector Huss in particular, declaring her "smart, competent, but fallible," and observed that the strength of Tursten's debut novel "augurs well for the future exploits of its heroine."

Tatuerad torso, which was translated as The Torso, is the second of the Inspector Huss books to be released in English in the United States. In this volume, a woman is playing fetch with her dog on a local beach when she finds a portion of a human body. Irene Huss once again is the inspector in charge, and is forced to identify the corpse—just the torso—from its tattoo. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked: "Smart and intuitive, Huss is a fully realized character." Again reviewing for Booklist, Bill Ott commented that "Tursten brings into high relief the toll police work takes on the psyche and the difficulty of moving between dramatically different worlds." Bobby Blades, in a review for Curled Up with a Good Book Web site, opined: "The book's strength is obviously the character of Irene Huss working in the male-dominated society of police work."

The Glass Devil opens with Inspector Huss discovering the body of murdered teacher Jacob Schyttelius, who has been shot at home in his cottage. The only real clue is a Satanic symbol that was written on his computer monitor in blood. When Huss goes to question Schyttelius's parents, she discovers they too have been murdered in the same manner, with the identical symbol left behind as a calling card. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "Tursten does her usual solid job of populating the novel with credible, flawed characters."

As Caroline Cummins noted in January Online, "Tursten's Sweden may not be a rose-colored land, but neither is it a place of unrelenting gloom. It has its troubles, like anywhere else, but from the point of view of Irene Huss, it's also a most worthwhile place to be."



Booklist, October 15, 1999, Bill Ott, review of Detective Inspector Huss, p. 393; January 1, 2006, Bill Ott, review of The Torso, p. 70.

Entertainment Weekly, April 14, 2006, Gillian Flynn, review of The Torso, p. 90.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of Detective Inspector Huss, p. 1433; February 15, 2006, review of The Torso, p. 165.

Publishers Weekly, November 18, 2002, review of Detective Inspector Huss, p. 44; January 30, 2006, review of The Torso, p. 43; February 19, 2007, review of The Glass Devil, p. 151.


Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (August 4, 2007), Bobby Blades, review of The Torso.

January Online,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (June 12, 2003), Caroline Cummins, "Northern Lights."