Sunday, July 7, 2013

N is for Håkan Nesser

Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser is my submission for the Crime Fiction Alphabet at Mysteries in Paradise this week.

From my copy of the book:
Håkan Nesser was born in 1950 in Sweden. In 1993 he was awarded the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Prize for new authors for his novel Mind’s Eye, and is the only author to have won the Academy’s best novel award three times: in 1994 for Borkmann’s Point; in 1996 for Woman with Birthmark; and in 2007 for A Rather Different Story. In 1999 he was awarded the Scandinavian Crime Society’s Glass Key Award for the best crime novel of the year for Carambole. His novels have been published to wide acclaim in nearly thirty countries.
At the beginning of Mind's Eye, a man wakes up with an excruciatingly painful hangover, not sure even who he is. He discovers the dead body of his wife in their bathtub and remembers who he is. He calls the police.

This is definitely not your standard mystery story. From almost the beginning of the book, a suspect is apprehended for a murder, is charged, and very quickly the story moves to the trial of the defendant for murder. There is no real proof that this man is the murderer, yet there seems to be no other answer.

The detective is Inspector Van Veeteren. He is very talented at his job and he knows it. This keeps him motivated to stay with the job even when he is not enjoying it. I don't know if I would call Van Veeteren likeable, but he is human and very interesting.

Quotes from the chapter where we meet the inspector:
Detective Chief Inspector Van Veeteren did not have a cold.

On the other hand, he did have a tendency to be depressed when the weather was poor, and as it had now been raining more or less nonstop for ten days, melancholy had made the most of the opportunity to sink deep roots into his mind.
And...
Why be a depressed master gardener or bus driver when you can be a depressed detective chief inspector...
The book is divided into three parts. Each part kept me interested. The first part focussed more on the people involved. The second and third parts moved on to more intense stages of the investigation. The story was compelling.  I read the first part the first night, the rest the next evening, rather than splitting the book up in many sessions as I usually do.

In summary, I liked this book very much and I am eager to continue the series. I found the characters to be interesting and believable. It was more of a psychological  study than a fairly-clued mystery. There were hints but no real clues to the solution, which is fine with me as long as the author keeps me entertained.

I prefer to go into a book knowing as little as possible about the story and I was glad I did not read any of the summary on the back cover of the book, because it tells way more than I want to know. But that is just me. Some of the reviews and posts listed below go into more detail of the story, if you are looking for more.

In the Spotlight by Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...
Karen Meek's review at Eurocrime

Please visit the post at Mysteries in Paradise to check out other entries for the letter N.

This is the third translated book I have read this year and will count for the Books in Translation Reading Challenge.



24 comments:

  1. I liked the premise of the plot. :)

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    1. Scott, I liked it too. Very different.

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  2. TracyK: I enjoyed Borkmann’s Point but have not read any more of his books. There is no specific reason beyond not adding to the TBR pile.

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    1. Bill, I know exactly what you mean. But I still hope to get to that book soonish. The first one was such a fast read.

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  3. Tracy, translated works seem to be the flavour of the season and I'm beginning to feel the pinch for not reading my share of books from different parts of the world. This is an interesting submission for your Books in Translation Reading Challenge. I'm also noticing the evolution of the modern sleuth or detective who, I think, is no longer infallible.

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    1. You are correct, Prashant, and I am joining the crowd. I like reading about different cultures... but still mostly via mystery novels.

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  4. Tracy, hopefully I can get this one read in the next month or so. It's near the top of the pile. Your review just inched it closer to the top!

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    1. Col, I think it is the type of book you will like. I will be looking for your review.

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  5. I haven't read Hakan Nesser. My sister read Unlucky Lottery. I found it very funny that my sister got so irritated with Van Veeteren for chewing toothpicks. Mind's Eye does sound like an interesting book I will try it. And does he chew toothpicks in this one, if yes, I will recommend this to my sister.

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    1. Valli, Van Veeteren does chew on toothpicks and it is an annoying habit. And he plays badminton, which seems a strange sport to choose.

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  6. Tracy - Oh, this is an excellent choice for N. Nesser is a very talented author, and I've enjoyed his Van Veeteren series quite a lot. One of the things I like about the series is that the characters have grown and changed, and that keeps the series vibrant I think.

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    1. Margot, I do want to continue this series, which just adds to my TBR pile. Seems like some of the later books feature other detectives in the group. Looking forward to that.

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  7. I've only read the first three in this series, and they all seem different from each other, which is a plus. Nesser keeps me guessing, and the books are thoughtful too. Enjoy!

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    1. Rebecca, you are further along than I am. I will be ordering the next two soon.

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  8. I think unputdownable is one of the highest compliments an author can get. And I think I see a trend in European mystery writing - many seem to be psychological mysteries rather than thriller/noir/classic mysteries. Thanks for the review.

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    1. Peter, I am hoping the series continues to be unputdownable. I like a blend of psychology and detection in the mysteries I read.

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  9. I love Hakan Nesser and I'm looking forward to reading his latest ones. Thanks for the review Tracy.

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    1. Sarah, I am hooked on Nesser now. Which gives me 8 more in the series to read, eventually.

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  10. Hakan Nesser is an excellent writer, and also varies the tones and intensity of his books. Some have drop-dead humor in the midst of a very serious investigation; others don't.

    I heartily recommend his books.

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    1. Kathy, just based on this one book, I agree. I bought the next two in the series, even though I have way too many books. Just could not resist.

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  11. Woman with Birthmark is devastating, good, intense, but what a read!

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    1. Kathy, I look forward to reading it. Wish I had more time to read.

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  12. I don't know this author, I'm embarrassed to say. I'm so glad I've visited your blog today, because I definitely want to read one of his novels.

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

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    1. Judith, I hope you do read a book by Nesser... and that you enjoy it. This one is very different mystery, and I look forward to reading more in the series.

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