Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is on holiday on the coast near the coastal town of Kaalbringen when two men are brutally murdered with an axe. The local police chief is just days away from retirement so Van Veeteren and Munster are drafted in to help with the investigation.
Then a third man is killed by the axeman. There appears to be no link between the victims, a drug addict jailbird, a wealthy but not very pleasant businessman, and a young doctor, the son of a local consultant.
As the investigation proceeds a brilliant and beautiful young female detective Beate Moerk goes missing.
Hakan Nesser received the first of his three Swedish Crime Writer's Academy Best Novel Awards in 1994 for Borkmann's Point and it was well deserved.
I like the quirkiness and slightly eccentric nature of the chess playing Van Veeteren. But it is Hakan Nesser's ability to blend a story of horrible crimes, and human despair, with sly humour that makes this book stand out from many others.
There is virtually a memorable quote in every few pages, and while the twist in the plot might be fairly obvious, the sharply drawn characters and the overall depth of the story make up for this.
On being shown Bausen's wine cellar all ready for his retirement Van Veeteren muses:
Why haven't I been doing something like this ? he thought. I must start digging the moment I get home!
It might be a bit problematic in view of the fact that he lived in an apartment block, of course, but maybe he could start by purchasing the goods instead.
Mixed in with the humour as the police team thrash around like " headless chickens" there is a very bleak story of human tragedy.
"What we can be sure of , what we can rely on absolutely, is evil. It never lets us down. Good... goodness is only a stage set, a backdrop against which the satanic performs. Nothing else .....nothing."