She's back. Maud returns, much to this reviewer's surprise and delight. Her first, and supposedly last, appearance was in An elderly lady is up to no good, where she was taking justice into her own hands, and under scrutiny by clever Detective Inspector Irene Huss. In this group of short stories Maud fills in some blank spots about her early life, which explains how she started on this path of crime, aka justice. She was witness to unfair occurrences that took place, reacted, and learned to do so in a very careful and calculating manner, so that the perpetrator would not know what hit them. Plus, Maud never left a trail of evidence, and never does, even though she has had some close calls. After a while this became quite normal for her, even though all she ever wanted was a quiet, calm, uneventful life. Her best method of self-defense has always been one of either “the confused old lady” or “the slightly addled senior citizen.” One of Maud’s rules is, “Certain Problems have only one solution. That’s just the way it is."
Among the several crimes, she takes care of are: a child rapist, who is almost about to commit the crime; one person trying to swindle land away from another, who is entitled to it; a greedy, ne’er-do-well son trying to outsmart his hard-working mother of her apartment. At the very end of these adventures, Maud plans well for others and for herself. "This is my chance to spend my final years exactly where I want to be, and hopefully I'll be able to avoid lying dead for months before anyone notices I'm not around." The stories are cleverly interconnected as Maud gets ready to take a trip to South Africa. Almost eighty-nine years old, and in good physical and mental health, with no family responsibilities or encumbrances, she likes her freedom, loves to travel and at long last can do so in comfort, even luxury. As she escapes the cold winter in Sweden, she embarks on connecting flights from Gothenberg to Copenhagen, where she will join up with a tour group heading to South Africa. What could possibly happen on such a trip? As Maud relaxes in business class on Emirates Airline, having enjoyed a delicious meal accompanied by wine and cognac, she is jolted by a couple arguing. Even on a vacation, problems that need to be resolved find Maud, who is just the person to make things right.
Because these vignettes take place during the Christmas season, Helene Tursten provides two recipes for Gingerbread Cookies: one is "the nice version" and the other is "the naughy version." Nothing deadly in either one, but there is a difference.