The Van Veeteren series by Hakan Nesser
The Van Veeteren series take place in Maardam, a fictitious city in a made-up country that could be anywhere in northern Europe. It follows the murder cases of Chief inspector Van Veeteren - and eventually, later in the series - the retired Chief Inspector - and his two crime squad protégés, Münster and Moreno.
Van Veeteren is a philosophical detective with a unique ability to draw lines between dots that are far apart and nearly invisible. He firmly believes that he is able to solve any murder case. He is somewhat enigmatic and at times difficult to deal with. Vaguely gruff, temperamental, a little eccentric, but overall very warm, and funny, and someone it's easy to identify with. He is currently one of the most popular Swedish fictional characters, with a popularity apporaching that of Martin Beck and Kurt Wallander.
Books in the Van Veeteren series
Swedish titles and translations
- 1993 - Det grovmaskiga nätet - English: Mind's Eye, 2008
- 1994 - Borkmanns punkt - English: Borkmann's Point, 2006
- 1995 - Återkomsten - English: The Return, 2007
- 1996 - Kvinna med födelsemärke - English: Woman with Birthmark, 2009
- 1997 - Kommissarien och tystnaden - English: The Inspector and Silence, 2010
- 1998 - Münsters fall - Forthcoming (UK): The Unlucky Lottery (US title Münster's Case) - 2011
- 1999 - Carambole
- 2000 - Ewa Morenos fall
- 2001 - Svalan, katten, rosen, döden
- 2003 - Fallet G
When Van Veeteren goes into retirement he buys an antiquarian bookshop where he plans to live out his remaining years devoting himself to his other great passion - books. He also wants to spend more time with his family - especially his estranged son Erich, whose history of crime and drug abuse are at least in part a result of Van Veeteren's deep commitment to his work.
However, his retirement is in name only, as Münster and Moreno continue to consult the master detective, who helps them with new perspectives in their investigations and invariable ends up getting actively involved himself. And one senses he would not have it any other way.
Hakan Nesser - biography
Håkan Nesser (born February 21, 1950) is one of Sweden's most successful authors who has written a number of successful novels, mostly crime fiction. He has won Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times, and his novel Carambole won the Glass Key award in 2000. His books have been translated from Swedish into 9 languages.
Håkan Nesser was born and grew up in Kumla, and has lived most of his adult life in Uppsala. He is a secondary level teacher. His first novel was published in 1988, but he worked as a teacher until 1998 when he became a full-time author, after having become extremely successful as a heavyweight crime writer with his Van Veeteren series. In August, 2006, Håkan Nesser and his wife Elke moved to Greenwich Village in New York. A few years later the couple packed their bags and moved to London.
Hakan Nesser has published 20 books in Swedish. Four of them have so far been translated to English. They are Borkmann's Point (2006), The Return (2007), The Mind's Eye (2008), and Woman with Birthmark (2009). All of these are books in the series about Van Veeteren. The series about Van Veeteren (so far) consists of 10 books (in Swedish), just like Sjöwall & Wahlöö's famous series about Martin Beck did.
Woman with Birthmark: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery, by Hakan Nesser
This is another book in the series of books about Inspector Van Veeteren. Just like Sjowall & Wahloo’s famous series about Martin Beck, the series about Van Veeteren consists of 10 books. In Woman with Birthmark, the police in Maardam have to solve a series of brutal murders with excessive use of violence.
In the book we meet a mother’s dying wish sealed with a deadly promise. Four men with a secret they thought they’d buried decades ago. And a detective in love. We also meet a man desperate to live despite the shadow of his guilty past.
A woman, Maria Adler, buries her mother. Having heard her mother’s confession, Maria realizes she has no other option but to seize upon her mother’s imperative to do something. Dissolving the life she loathes, Maria changes her appearance and disappears. Using a false name, she travels to a different city. The purpose of the trip is to seek revenge by killing. First she plays an old tune that she has recorded over the phone. Then she shoots her first victim, twice in the chest and twice in the crotch. The next killing is done the same way.
Van Veeteren has little to go on. The first victim was a quiet, dull man, and the only suspicious activity his surviving wife can recall is a series of peculiar phone calls. Repeatedly the telephone would ring, offering nothing but the words of an obscure pop song from the 1960s.
The murders in Woman with Birthmark are almost perfectly executed – no witnesses, no sound, no traces. But what is the motive? The link between these heinous crimes remains unknown. Van Veeteren is forced to dig into the past to find possible motives.
With the critical eye and cool observation necessary for a successful chess match, Van Veeteren pursues his subject across the country, wading through outrageous leads and fruitless tips. A breathless thriller full of deception, blackmail, and cold murder, Woman with Birthmark is a chilling, elegantly composed crime book.
The Return: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery, by Hakan Nesser
Hakan (Håkan) Nesser is another of the brilliant Swede crime writers who have been translated into English recently. He is a skilled writer, with well developed plots in his books, and has written a series of books about Inspector Van Veeteren. As you will see when you read The Return, Van Veeteren is a likable, smart, passionate and fully drawn character. Furthermore, all of Nesser’s books have the feel of authentic police investigations throughout. His books are generally police procedurals.
The storyline in The Return revolves around an inquest conducted by Chief Inspector Van Veeteren and his squad of detectives in the Maardam police department. A decapitated corpse also missing hands and feet was discovered wrapped in a carpet by a pre-school child in a wooded area during a class outing. Immediately the investigation was two pronged. Exactly who was the victim and who was his murderer?
The detectives soon discover that the victim was one Leopold Verhaven. The notorious Verhaven, once a world class middle distance runner, had served two separate 12 year prison terms for the murders of two young women he was romantically involved with. As Van Veeteren looks back at the evidence from the previous killings he gets the feeling that Verhaven might have been innocent.
The reader is taken through many routine interrogations in a murder investigation which only very gradually add up to a solution to the case. The case itself is bizarre and convoluted, involving the murders of three people, including a convicted murderer recently paroled from prison. While the central figure in The Return is Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, his junior colleagues get most of the story space and their characters are well developed and credible. Still, Van Veeteren really shines through, after his serious surgical procedure he’s in a lighter, more philosophical mood with more humor and irony surfacing.
The Return is a great crime novel, and very psychological. The action is intriguing and interesting, the plot good, and the characters rich and attractive. You will enjoy! Highly recommended.
Other great books by Hakan Nesser include Borkmann's Point: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery and Münsters Fall.
Order books by Hakan Nesser from amazon UK: The Return, Borkmann's Point.