Thursday, March 10, 2011


'If the shit hits the fan, you can always get in touch with VV instead,' Malijsen explained. 'He's an old colleague of mine, and owes me a favour.'

When during the heat of a sweltering summer an anonymous woman caller telephones Acting Chief of Police Kluuge informing him that a girl is missing from the summer camp of the strange religious sect, The Pure Life, he sends for Chief Inspector Van Veeteren.

Van Veeteren is contemplating retirement, a position in an antiquarian bookshop, and an upcoming holiday in Crete, by chance in the same hotel as a chestnut haired woman from an earlier case. But the 'crackpot' Maljisen did save his life so he travels to Sorbinowo, a lake town deep in the forest, to investigate where he discovers that Oscar Yellinek, the priest who leads the sect, his three adult women disciples, and the twelve young girls attending the summer camp are all very uncooperative.
Then a girl's body is found in the woods, raped and strangled, and Oscar Yellinek has disappeared.
A media frenzy ensues but the women and girls of the Pure Life sect remain obstinately silent.

The Inspector and Silence by Hakan Nesser is virtually a thesis on Van Veeteren's disillusionment with his job. Does he stay in the police seeing more bodies, dealing with more murderers and criminals, or does he retire to a life of books, drinking, eating, playing chess and listening to Faure and Pergolesi?
And if this sounds depressing the story's wit and ironic humour makes it a far less gloomy read than might be supposed from the subject matter.
The cameo appearances of interesting characters such as elderly newspaper editor Andrej Prezebuda, and the wooden legged cop Suijderbeck, as well as the accounts of Van Veeteren's idiosyncratic detection strategies make this a great read.

Red wine, he decided instead. It was only eleven in the morning, but not a minute too soon for a glass and a cigarette.

Hakan Nesser brilliantly captures the slowness, the frustrations, the boredom and false trails that can constitute a murder investigation.
The Van Veeteren books are a very intelligent police procedural series, and I am very much looking forward to the next book in the series out later this year.

'We have nothing to do with the investigation,' Reinhart explained. ' We've come here to track down an ancient detective chief inspector who's disappeared.'
'I'm on his trail,' said Van Veeteren.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - As though Maxine's review wasn't enough to tempt me, your fine review of this novel has certainly put this novel on my TBR list. And of course, I do like VV and his team! I am very glad to hear that Nesser's trademark wit is there, too; that's something I really enjoy about this series.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Margot. Hakan Nesser was as amusing and charming in real life when he attended Crime Fest in 2009. That was the year I started reading the VVs and now I would not miss one.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

Lovely review, and quotes, Norman. I do like this dry and funny (but deadly serious) series. I got the impression from reading this one that he'll be a bookseller by the next installment. If so, I'm looking forward to that. He (VV) seemed so disillusioned by this particular novel.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Maxine.
I read on Amazon that he is on a sabbatical working in the bookshop in the next book.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

I donĀ“t remember all the Van Veeteren stories as I read them some years ago, but I remember the rather sinister atmosphere of this one. Another series I want to reread - but there are so many new books on my TBR.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Because of the good reviews at Petrona of this series, I began reading them, and have read "Woman with Birthmark," and "Mind's Eye."

Nesser's is one of my favorite series in the Swedish crime fiction genre.

The books are not only crisp, quickly-moving mysteries, but Van Veeteren is such a quirky guy. And his wit! Bowls me over ever time I encounter one of his remarks in the middle of a page about a case, and I'm caught unaware. Sometimes I just burst out laughing.

His are books that have that quality of being unputdownable.

I must make sure to share these with mystery reader friends.

12:52 AM  

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