Sunday, March 15, 2020

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good: Helene Tursten

The five stories in this slim volume were written by Helene Tursten, the author of the Inspector Irene Huss series. But the stories bear no resemblance to the Irene Huss novels. Irene Huss and some of her colleagues do show up in the last story.

All the stories focus on eighty-eight-year-old Maud, who lives in a lovely apartment in Gothenburg, Sweden, rent free. Being very old, some people try to take advantage of her but she is not easy to fool. And she can take care of herself.

One theme throughout the stories is how elderly people are treated and overlooked in society. Maud uses this perception of older people to her advantage.

The five stories are:

  • “An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems”
  • “An Elderly Lady on Her Travels"
  • “An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmastime”
  • “The Antique Dealer’s Death”  
  • “An Elderly Lady Is Faced with a Difficult Dilemma”

I liked the last two stories best; the last story tells the previous story from a different point of view. Even if short stories are not your thing you might enjoy this set of connected stories because it reads something like a short novel. This small book is full of dark humor.

“An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmastime” was published in The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers, if you already have that collection of stories.

If you can read this book without having read a review or any of the book cover text, I recommend that. Most reviews, and even some blurbs within the book, tell more than I wanted to know in advance. For that reason, I have given an overview of the stories with no details. If you do want more detail about the stories, check these posts at


Publisher:   Soho Crime, 2018 
Translated by Marlaine Delargy 
Length:       171 pages in a small format book
Format:       Hardcover
Setting:       Sweden
Genre:        Crime fiction, short stories
Source:       Purchased in November 2019.


Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, now I am really intrigued, Tracy. I like the Irene Huss series. I know this isn't like that, but to me, it means that Tursten is a talented writer (which she is). And I always give writers a lot of credit when they try different sorts of things.

TracyK said...

Margot, these stories are very different from the police procedural novels that Tursten writes, and I enjoyed them a lot (after I got used to the character).

Rick Robinson said...

New one to me, author and book.

Hope you are doing and being well.

TracyK said...

Rick, as far as health goes, we are fine. A bit stressed, like most everyone, by the daily changes in guidelines and recommendations for dealing with the coronavirus. Here in California, the guidelines are for anyone over 65 to isolate themselves, but I have yet to find out what the actual limitations are. OK to go out for groceries or medical appointments? We did go out for groceries today with a view to having enough groceries to self-isolate, and of course there wasn't much there. We will try again tomorrow very early. And our son can do grocery shopping for us if needed, at least for now. But really, we are fine, and very lucky compared to some.

Glen is still working but is working from home and that works fine for him and his company.

TracyK said...

And Rick, I forgot to say, I hope you are also doing well.

Cath said...

I think you mentioned this book before and I put it on my Goodreads shelf for the European reading challenge for Sweden.

Just reading your reply to Rick. Glad you're ok. We're in Cornwall at the moment but home tomorrow ready to self isolate as my husband is high risk, heart condition, diabetes etc. We're told it might have to be for as much as 12 weeks. Hardly seems credible but I know we can do it, we have books and the veggie garden can be started up in April. It would also be nice if us book bloggers who seem to have formed a little group almost could post often to keep our spirits up. You take care, Tracy.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Cath. I was thinking the same. Reading, posting about the books, and keeping up with other blogs will help keep me going. Under the circumstances, self isolating is the best idea for you two and but it can be hard, I know. I would be just as happy staying at home for the most part, if I could assure myself of enough basic groceries and supplies. You take care, too.

Rick Robinson said...

Tracy, we are both doing well, but taking every precaution. Since we're both over 70 and both have had respiratory problems this year (Barbara-Pneumonia, Rick-Bronchitis) plus I'm diabetic, I'm particularly high risk and am staying at home. Period. Barbara is doing shopping, getting what there is. She tried Costco this morning, got there an hour before opening to find over 100 already lined up! Once in, there are no paper products (we didn't greed horde shop early on) or bread items, etc. I'm hoping she can get a carton of eggs.

Meanwhile my older brother who is 81, has been in an elder Alzheimers facility for the last three years, has now been hospitalized. I'm very worried about him.

But outside, there is new growth everywhere and the birds has their Spring plumage. Enjoy.

TracyK said...

Rick, thanks for the update. We are running into the same problems with shopping, no paper products. Today my son took me out early in the morning to Vons, and no toilet papers or related products. Vons did have less limits on other items than Ralphs and we picked up a few more food items to keep us going for a couple of weeks.

I am sorry to hear about your brother. I understand your worries in that area.

Today is our first day without rain for a while, but it looks like we may get more on the weekend. We need the rain and I like that kind of weather, but we had had about a week of rain so the break is good.

Take care.

Rick Robinson said...

The Albertsons here is restricting hours 7-9 am on Tue and Thur for seniors only. Doesn’t mean they’ll have items, but at least we can get in before the younger hoarding buyers. We haven’t seen any paper products for nearly 2 weeks. One does begin to worry.

TracyK said...

Rick, I agree it is worrisome. I have only heard of one place here with early hours for seniors and I heard that they had long lines to get in.

Rick Robinson said...

She went this morning at 7:15, and there were about 10 people ahead of her. The manager asked everyone for their cooperation, but there were a few younger shoppers. They weren't asked to leave, but may have been grumbled at by others. It was the first place Barbara had seen that had TP. We mainly wanted a few cans of soup, some Clorox Wipes and milk. They still had no rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer, but we have plenty of soap. Barbara has been out on Grocery Hunt every day this week. I've asked to please stay home and I'm doing so.

Our newspaper had a list of markets with senior hours, several of them are doing it but Alberson's / Safeway is the only big chain.

Breathe clear

Mathew Paust said...

Visiting Todd's blog in the hope of finding some evidence FFB's alive, and thought of you, my most faithful reader! Glad to see you're still reading and posting reviews. I've touched base with Todd a couple of times, and he tells me he and Alice are slowly recovering from evidently flu-like illnesses (hope to hell it's no you-know-what!) but that he hopes to get FFB up and running...eventually. Good news, that is!

I've been re-reading and new-reading Kerouac, but have no plans yet on what to write about his work. I've been posting little things--a couple poems and a personal essay--on my blog, and have been getting my four crime novels polished up to try and sell as an omnibus set.

Glad to see you're weathering the Corona storm (and that Rick is, too). What you two have reported is about the same as our situation in Hampton Roads, Va. The "social distancing" business is getting a tad wearisome, but I still walk mornings with my professor friend who's no teaching her classes online from home. The local gyms have closed, so we're getting more company on these walks--altho everyone is pretty much observing the six-foot separation recommendation.

Seeing your Tursten review here reminded me of the Irene Huss novel I read after reading your reviews on the series. I like Tursten's style, and these stories look to be the perfect palate cleanser after my Kerouac wallowling.

My best wishes to you, Rick Margot and Cath to stay healthy and safe during this dire time! -- Matt

TracyK said...

Mathew, It is good to hear from you and thanks for bringing me up to date. On what you have been doing and the status of FFB. I am sorry to hear that Todd has been ill.

Today it was sunny and beautiful (although I prefer overcast), and I got to do some weeding in my tiny front garden area. I don't mind being in isolation (with my husband and son and cat) but it feels different when it is not by choice.

Best wishes to you too. Take care of yourself.

Clothes in Books said...

Glad to hear you are doing OK Tracy - we are all right so far here.

I keep meaning to try this author's books, but as ever would prefer to start with a full-length book rather than short stories.

TracyK said...

Thanks for the update, Moira. Glad to hear you guys are doing fine so far.

Tursten's novels are worth trying someday, and they are definitely different from these short stories.

col2910 said...

I quite like the sound of this one. My wife is a house manager at a residential apartment block for 38 oldies, including her mum. I've got to know quite a few of them. That said, I doubt I need more books.

TracyK said...

Col, this is a quick easy read so if you ever get the opportunity to get an inexpensive copy, I recommend it.