Night Rounds

Tursten, Helene

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn
  • Date of entry: Jul-25-2013
  • Last revised: Aug-22-2013


Police inspector Irene Huss, married to an inspired chef and mother of twin teenaged girls, is summoned to investigate the murder by strangulation of a nurse who had been working the night shift in a private hospital. A power failure that same night provokes the death of a patient when his respirator failed. The nurse’s body is found tossed over a generator in the basement electrical room—one of the first places inspected. The lines had been deliberately cut.

Another nurse is missing. The only other nurse on duty that night is convinced that she has seen the hospital’s old ghost, Nurse Tekla, who hanged herself in the hospital attic because of a broken heart a half century earlier.

The hospital director, handsome but administratively challenged Dr. Löwander, is devastated. He worries about the possible failure of the hospital, which he inherited from his father and he seems genuinely concerned for his staff. His ex-wife remains bitter about her divorce years ago, but his present wife – an obsessive body builder and trainer—seems unconcerned by the events. She has long been planning to turn the hospital into a spa and gym. The dead patient’s beautiful, youngish widow has just come into a lot of money with her husband’s death by power failure.

The investigation leads to the history of the hospital, old affairs, and the origins of the ghost-nurse story, which attaches itself to popular opinions about the case to the immense irritation of the police chief. 

Meanwhile, one of Huss's daughters has become a militant vegan, resulting in more stressors in her double life as a wife and a cop.  


The author is a nurse and a dentist. One of a series about the woman detective, this novel displays a strong theme of gender concerns—women in the police force, women as nurses serving male doctors, and mothers with female offspring. The obsessive body building and preoccupation with appearance emerge in this context.

The engaging heroine, Irene, is a middle-aged feminist, but she is also a pragmatist with handy expertise in jujitsu. She sees the many beautiful, blonde and privileged suspects through jaded eyes, but she knows how to bite her tongue when confronted with the sexist attitudes of her colleagues.

Nursing uniforms and professional silences are significant features of the story. The proclivities, architectural peculiarities, and financial challenges of a small private hospital are well portrayed.

The ending may not come as a surprise, but the narrative is compelling.


Translated from the original Swedish Nattrond (1999) by Laura A. Wideburg.


Soho Press

Place Published

New York



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