cover image The Fire Dance

The Fire Dance

Helen Tursten, trans. from the Swedish by Laura A. Wideburg. Soho Crime, $26.95

Swedish author Tursten isn't in top form, and neither is her lead character, in the disappointing sixth Inspector Irene Huss mystery (after 2013's The Golden Calf). In 1989, Irene, a novice policewoman, responded to a house fire in which a man died. The police suspected his 11-year-old stepdaughter, Sophie Malmborg, knew what happened and might even have started the fire, but Sophie refused to talk and the case went cold. Fifteen years later, a dancer's body is found incinerated in an abandoned shed. When Irene learns Sophie was the victim, she turns to the old case for clues. Her investigation takes her to the House of Dance, where Sophie had been choreographing "The Fire Dance," a performance resonant with personal history. Irene also encounters Sophie's scheming mother, Angelika, and half-brother, Frej, a photographer who appears obsessed with fire. Characters are complex and unusual, but Irene seems unfocused and misses an obvious clue that would have solved the mystery far earlier. Still, series fans should enjoy glimpsing her early days on the force and seeing her 18-year-old daughter, Katarina, find a passion for dance. (Jan.)