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The life of a detective

The life of a detective

Required reading

Who: Robert Horselenberg, legal psychologist

Book: Änglavakter, Kristina Ohlsson

Target group: Law and psychology students

Thrillers: that is the best bedside reading material for legal psychologist Robert Horselenberg. But he is critical. Don’t give him books by American bestseller author Dan Brown or Dutch writer René Appel. “I don’t like them.” He finds them too easy and unrealistic. Besides, he reckons that the writers don’t develop their characters properly. For Horselenberg, this is very important for a good thriller. That is why he recommends Änglavakter (Guardian Angels, we still wait for the English translation). For Swedish Kristina Ohlsson (1979), it is the third book in which the main character is criminologist Fredrika Bergman.
Horselenberg teaches the master’s of Forensics, Criminology and Law and specialises in the meaning of statements. He acts as an advisor in witness examinations by the police. “Because of the high level of reality in this thriller, students get a good idea of criminal investigation and the work of detectives.”

The beheaded body of a young woman is found in a forest near Stockholm. She is identified as Rebecca, a student who had gone missing two years previous. Investigator Bergman has just given birth, she should be enjoying her maternity leave, but she has had it with sitting at home. She gets down to business together with her usual team, only to make a few more macabre discoveries. The trail leads to an older female writer and an obscure club of film buffs. When her partner’s name, a professor, appears in the murder investigation, private life and work become entangled.
Änglavakter has an extra dimension, says Horselenberg. “The writer plays a trick by having a second story line, in which the detectives themselves are being investigated by the national department of criminal investigation.”

According to Horselenberg, Scandinavian crime writers really know how to give depth to their characters. Ohlsson’s experience, as a member of the Swedish secret service and a terrorism fighter, enables her to give her characters even more depth. “It is almost as if her detectives are real. Detectives do not have a ‘happy-go-lucky’ nine-to-five job. They work hard and long. They can be called upon at any time, are often in poor health, eat irregularly, neglect their private lives, et cetera. The best detectives, as is also the case with this main character, are headstrong, think things through, follow their instinct, force their will upon others, but also at times fall on their faces.”

In this column lecturers recommend a novel that throws a different light on their field than textbooks do




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