An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten Translated into English by Marlaine Delargy

Recently, a patron enthusiastically shared a fun, easy-read book suggestion with me. She had read “An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good” with her book club group and was delighted to share that all members of the group, older, younger, male and female had enjoyed this collection of short stories by Swedish author Helene Tursten.

When a patron suggests, I listen, and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed this collection, as well. From the publisher, Soho Press: “Maud is an irascible 88-year-old Swedish woman with no family, no friends, and… no qualms about a little murder. This funny, irreverent story collection by Helene Tursten, author of the Irene Huss investigations features two-never-before translated stories that will keep you laughing all the way to the retirement home.

Ever since her darling father’s untimely death when she was only eighteen, Maud has lived in the family’s spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract.

That was how Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Now in her late eighties, Maud contents herself with traveling the world and surfing the net from the comfort of her father’s ancient armchair. It’s a solitary existence, but she likes it that way.

Over the course of her adventures—or misadventures—this little bold lady will handle a crisis with a local celebrity who has her eyes on Maud’s apartment, foil the engagement of her long-ago lover, and dispose of some pesky neighbors. But when the local authorities are called to investigate a murder in her apartment complex, will Maud be able to avoid suspicion, or will Detective Inspector Irene Huss see through her charade?”

Five short stories make up the contents of this book. They are: “An Elderly Lady has Accomodation Problems”, “An Elderly Lady on Her Travels”, “An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmastime”, “The Antique Dealers Death” and “An Elderly Lady is Faced with a Difficult Dilemma”.

Although each story could stand alone, it is suggested to read them from front to back, because they’re all woven together in a very creative manner. The author’s writing style is a delight, and as you read on, you discover tie ins and references to things that took place prior to the events in the story before this one. This clever unfolding certainly made me want to keep reading for more...in fact, due to the intriguing style of Tursten’s writing and the short story format, this book is one that can be read from start to finish in just a few hours.

About the author, and from the author, as published in the book: ""Helene Tursten was a nurse and a dentist before she turned to writing. She is the author of two mystery series set in Gothenberg, Sweden: the Irene Huss investigations (Detective Inspector Huss, Night Rounds, The Torso, The Glass Devil, The Golden Calf, The Fire Dance, The Beige Man, The Treacherous Net, Who Watcheth, and Protected by the Shadows) and the Embla Nystrom investigations, beginning with Hunting Game.

After spending years writing about honest people who work hard to uphhold the law, Helene was inspired to write about someone on the other side of the law: “One of the biggest publishers in Sweden asked me for a short story for their Christmas anthology. I said yes, but then I realized that I didn’t know what story to tell. The deadline came closer, and I felt totally empty. I almost panicked. And then she came to me: Maud. She was 88 years old and looked like most old grannies. But inside she was quite special. Her age was a perfect disguise for a criminal! Even...a murderer! I wrote the first story, “An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmastime” in just three hours, and I enjoyed every minute of her company. But let’s just say I would not like to have her as a neighbor or a relative!” Thus, the collection of stories featuring the irascible Maud, “An Elderly Lady Up to No Good”, was born.

Helene’s books have been translated into twenty-one languages and made into a Swedish television series. She was born in Gothenberg, where she now lives with her husband, and the couple has one daughter.”

As the author states, she enjoyed every minute of getting to know Maud. I must say, I did as well, but I’m probably going to approach little old ladies with an extra bit of well-placed caution from now on

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