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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Fire Dance (An Irene Huss Investigation)
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Once again Helene Tursten has crafted a story in which the personal relationships of the characters blend seamlessly with the police investigation. The Fire Dance allows us to see Huss as a police officer who's still finding her way through the political dynamics of her job, and as a new wife and mother as well. The new perspective adds depth to the story, as does the cold case.

Sophie Malmborg is one of the most interesting characters I've come across in a long time: prickly, almost totally uncommunicative, she sees life through the prism of her passion for dance, and she refuses to bow to anyone else's demands that she change. A reader can't help but want to know what makes her tick.

Although we get an honest picture of why it can take so long to solve a crime in any large city, Huss's family life still plays an important role in the book. Her twin daughters are both about to fly the nest, and her husband is still Irene's rock. Between a heavy caseload and two girls willfully expressing their independence, Irene definitely needs a devoted and loving husband like Krister.

For the first time in this series (I've read all the books as they've been translated into English), I felt let down by the solution to the crime. It was just way too obvious to me and took away some of my enjoyment of the book. Is The Fire Dance still good? You bet it is, especially due to the strong cast of characters Tursten has created-- and those characters have more than one surprise in store for readers like me who have followed this series from the start.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I am going to assume that you. the reader. know how to find out the basic story/plot of THE FIRE DANCE, so I won't burden you with that information. I enjoyed this book, the first Tursten I've read. It is always difficult for me, as a monolingual person, to know how much talent to ascribe to the author and how much to the translator. In this case, both seemed to have been working at the top of their respective games. I particularly enjoyed how the daily life of a working woman with a working spouse, as well as children and a dog, manages to live a life that isn't totally wacked. Huss's skills as a detective have improved; the flashback to a previous and connected crime demonstrates how much she's learned in fifteen years. I like to know that a character can grow. I have searched out a copy of her first book - high praise from someone with more than enough books to keep me reading for several years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I was unimpressed with the story. And there were some police procedural situations that I found utterly ridiculous for the female detective to have failed to follow. Introducing her spoiled daughter to possible suspects and endangering her without a thought about it was a divergence from Tursten's characterization of her main character. Also having her investigate alone seems so foolish. I may not read her again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The efforts of the truly indispensable Soho Crime imprint to catch U.S. readers up on the Irene Huss series continues, aided mightily by the translation skills of Laura A. Wideburg.

THE FIRE DANCE is the sixth in Helene Tursten’s fine and addictive canon featuring Swedish Detective Inspector Irene Huss, a quietly complex character who for whatever reason puts me in the mind of Marge Gunderson from Fargo, notwithstanding the fact that Huss, a tall, slender one-time jiu-jitsu champion, bears no physical resemblance whatsoever to Minnesota’s Gunderson. No, it is the quiet but sharp-edged competence that both women bring to the job that begs comparison, as well as the manner in which each balance the personal and professional. Huss, in this case, is married to a gourmet restaurant chef and dealing with twin daughters firmly ensconced in the turbulence and angst of teenage adolescence, which plays a minor role here.

Originally published in 2005, THE FIRE DANCE begins with a flashback to one of Huss’s earliest cases, when, as a newly minted rookie with the Goteborg Murder Squad, she and partner Tommy Persson were tasked with investigating a cottage fire that took the life of a man named Magnus Eriksson. Suspicion fell upon Sophie Malmborg, the victim’s 11-year-old stepdaughter, who was the last known person besides Eriksson to have been in the cottage prior to the fire. But Sophie is non-communicative; the fire is subsequently ruled to be accidental, and Huss and Persson become involved in other investigations.

Some 15 years later, Huss is summoned to the scene of a homicide and is startled to learn that the charred remains of the victim are those of Sophie, who in the intervening period had become highly regarded as a ballet dancer. Of course, the new investigation awakens Huss’s memories and interests in Eriksson’s death, particularly as new evidence emerges regarding both cases. Sophie’s younger half brother is an interesting character, as opposite from the quiet, brooding Sophie as one might be able to imagine. The relationship between Sophie and her mother, Angelika Malmborg-Eriksson, a ballet instructor, was an odd one, given that Sophie chose to live with her father in the aftermath of her stepfather’s death. Angelika is also somewhat of a femme-fatale, as she demonstrated during the preliminary investigation into her husband’s death. A bit of a gold digger, she has a habit of wedding and divorcing rich and famous men while bedding others.

Then there is the school of dance with which both Sophie and her mother were associated, as well as an assorted cast of students and instructors, one of whom has caught the eye of Huss’s daughter, Katarina. The problem is that while there are a number of potential suspects in Sophie’s death, none of them are particularly likely ones. However, given the disturbing similarities in the manner of the two deaths, Huss is all but certain that there is a connection between them, despite the lapse in time.

The main attraction of THE FIRE DANCE is how it slices realistically into and out of Huss’s professional and personal lives. Not everything is wrapped up neatly by the end. Though the book is complete in itself, there are enough loose ends dangling at the conclusion to make the reader both wonder about and anticipate the next installment. This is a great series, the audience for which hopefully will grow exponentially with each subsequent release.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I have read several of the Irene Huss mysteries and this one does not disappoint. It takes place in two separate time periods, one fifteen years ago, and the other right now. Irene is investigating the arson death of a dancer named Sophie who was burned alive. Sophie's death reminds Irene of a fire and murder fifteen years previously when Sophie's step-father was killed in a similar manner.

Sophie is a strange person. She most likely has schizoid personality disorder and may have a mild case of Asperger's Syndrome. She has no friends and her one true passion is dance. She speaks little and there is no one who is important in her life except perhaps her father who is a composer.

The investigation into Sophie's murder is very interesting and the characters are well-developed. Irene is a police detective, mother, ju jitsu champion, dog lover, and wife. All these aspects of her persona are explored. She comes across as a whole human being which is not often the case in a police procedural.

The novel takes place in Goteburg, Sweden, a cold and foggy place. Even Goteburg comes alive in Tursten's words as we read about the people who populate this sub-arctic region. Laura Wideburg's translation is excellent.

As Irene gets closer and closer to solving the murder, other crimes enter the story like red herrings and this is what keeps me from giving it a five. There are gangland murders, the release from prison of a criminal who terrorized Irene in a past novel, and the like. If the novel had focused solely on Sophie's murder and its investigation, it would have been much better.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I almost didn't read this one, thanks to Manasi's tepid review here. I'm so glad I did. Tursten is one of my favorite authors and The Fire Dance does not disappoint. Exciting, suspenseful, emotionally charged, with complex characters and a great sense of place. Loved every minute! If you like Scandinavian mysteries with strong female protagonists, you'll love it, too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 31, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Fifteen years is a long time between police investigations involving the same person, but that is what Inspector Irene Huss finds as she investigates the death of a young woman, Sophie, who as an eight-year-old girl was suspected of arson in the death of her stepfather when their house burned down. What is so striking in the present is that Sophie was burned to death.

The novel proceeds basically in fits and starts, as Irene and the rest of the Gotberg Murder Squad encounter other cases taking up time, and as she seeks either a clue to the past, as well as the present, or inspiration. Sophie had grown up to be a choreographer and dancer who created a dance called, naturally, The Fire Dance, which debuts posthumously to great acclaim.

As in the previous five installments in the series, Irene juggles her police duties with family life, her gourmet chef husband and twin daughters who now exhibit minds of their own in relation to their interests and boyfriends. This portrayal makes Irene a sympathetic, and somewhat harried, character. But she prevails somehow in both roles. At the same time, the author manages to move a crime story forward subtly with panache.

Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The Fire Dance is probably my favorite Tursten crime novel because I enjoyed its plot and characterization twists and turns very much. What I also appreciate about this book are the subtle parallels between Irene's life and that of Sophia's, the young woman who artistically portrayed her journey of heart. However, I would recommend that one read the first five Tursten translated novels beforehand, allowing one to access this novel's complexity with ease.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I guess there is a story here but it was hard to find in all the extra dodges. I argues with myself about simply putting the book down and calling it quits, or struggling to the end as a matter of principle. I should have put it down. Too many characters, too many eyes that are flat or without spark, and at the end, a too simple outcome that should have been obvious at about page 50. This is my first book by the author, and probably my last.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I enjoyed this book and found it difficult to put down. I liked that it was more all about solving the mystery rather than a blow by blow description of the murder's gory details. I was particularly drawn to the book since it takes place in Sweden and my Swedish language teacher was the translator for the book.

I would highly recommend the book.
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