Friday, July 25, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Glass Devil by Helene Tursten

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Glass Devil by Helene Tursten. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Glass Devil by Helene TurstenBuy from

The Glass Devil by
An Inspector Irene Huss Mystery

Soho Crime (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-489-3 (1569474893)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-489-1 (9781569474891)
Publication Date: April 2008
List Price: $13.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): The principal of a high school telephones his friend, Inspector Andersson of the Goteborg Crime Police; one of his teachers failed to show up for work. To Inspector Irene Huss' surprise, on the basis of this vague complaint her boss drives out with her to a remote cottage in snowbound southern Sweden to investigate. There they find a body, its head blasted by a rifle. Teacher Jacob Schyttelius has been murdered. When they go to break the news to his elderly parents, Pastor Sten Schyttelius and his wife, they find the couple dead in their beds, each shot between the eyes. Upside-down pentagrams have been drawn in blood on their computer screens. The only surviving member of the family is a daughter, now residing in London, but she is too distressed to be interviewed. Is the killer a member of a satanic cult? Is it the parish treasurer, rumored to have been embezzling church funds? Or one of the assistant pastors, tired of waiting for a promotion? Perhaps the attractive blonde who sings in church and practices witchcraft? Irene Huss has a hunch that the answer lies in England, and she travels there twice to discover the reason for this triple homicide.

Review: Goteborg Detective Inspector Irene Huss investigates a bizarre triple murder in The Glass Devil, the fifth mystery in this series (but only the third translated into English) by Swedish author Helene Tursten.

Jacob, a well liked teacher, his father, an elderly minister, and his aging mother who suffered for years from depression are dead, all killed within a very short time of each other. Jacob was found in his cottage with two gunshot wounds, one to his heart and other between the eyes. On his computer screen was drawn an upside-down pentagram in Jacob’s own blood. His parents were shot in their bed, once each between the eyes. On their computer screen, too, was drawn the upside-down pentagram in their blood . In addition, a wooden cross with the body of Christ was found turned upside down. Were these murders committed by a devil worshipper? Since the upside-down pentagram is frequently associated with a satanic cult, it is possible someone in such a cult could be the guilty party. But why would anyone in a cult hate the minister’s family so much as to murder them all? A surviving family member, Jacob's sister Rebecka, lives in London. Is she, too, in danger? Inspector Huss travels to London to talk with her, only to be rebuffed. It seems she, too, like her mother, suffers from depression and is unwilling to talk.

Upon further investigation at home, however, Inspector Huss finds there was dissention in the church as to who would be promoted to take the pastor's place in the rectory. Rumors and accusations begin to surface by those who could be elected as the next rector. Is it possible that in trying to solve the crime, Irene was overlooking the obvious and simply assumed the killer was an outsider? Could it be one of the church’s very own who committed the crime? If so, why? When she comes close to the resolution, she discovers that any person can be a devil, a glass devil. The evil is there but it goes unseen even by those closest to them.

The many facets to Irene's life are on display in The Glass Devil, all to great effect. She is a wife, a mother, and a career woman with a time-consuming, often dangerous, job. The author skillfully weaves the her domestic life with her professional one, and adds a layer of complexity by showing how "common" people, not unlike Irene and her family, can be honest and straightforward yet simultaneously be deceitful and devious. This is an exceptional novel and worth seeking out.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Glass Devil and to Soho Press for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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