15 July 2012

Review: THE MIND'S EYE, Hakan Nesser

  • copyright 1993. #1 in the Van Veeteren series
  • published by Macmillan 2008
  • translated from Swedish into English by Laurie Thompson
  • my edition - Large Print by ISIS Publishing 2009
  • ISBN 978-0-7531-8376-2
  • 316 pages
  • Source: my local library
Synopsis (author's website)

When Eva Mitter is found drowned in her bathtub, the chief suspect quickly becomes her husband of three months, Janek. With no other viable suspects and Janek’s suspicious behaviour, it looks like and open and shut case. Certainly Inspector Van Veeteren thinks so. After all who could believe Janek’s convenient loss of memory as to what happened that fateful night because he drank too much at dinner?

But when a second murder occurs that is clearly connected to the first, something about Janek’s protestations sets Van Veeteren rethinking the entire case, and before long finds himself involved in one of the darkest cases of his career.

My Take

The author's website is worth consulting for an overview of the series, of which THE MIND'S EYE is the first.
    The series, most often referred to as the Van Veeteren series, takes place in Maardam, a fictitious city in a made-up country that could be anywhere in northern Europe. It follows the murder cases investigated by Chief Inspector Van Veeteren – eventually the retired Chief Inspector – and his two crime squad protégés, Münster and Moreno.

The author goes on to describe Inspector Van Veteeren as a "a philosophical detective with a unique ability to draw lines between dots that are far apart and nearly invisible."
Certainly in THE MIND'S EYE there are some fascinating descriptions of the Inspector listening to classical music and finding that the elements of the case click into place. 

Van Veeteren's offsider Munster reflects
    The murderer was somewhere out there. One of this town's 300,000 inhabitants had taken it upon himself to kill one of his fellow human beings, and it was the duty of him, and Van Veeteren and all the rest of them, to nail the man - or the woman. It was going to be one hell of a job in fact. They would work for thousands of hours before the case was closed, and when they eventually had all the answers, it would become clear to them that nearly everything they had done had been a complete waste of time. They would realize that if only they'd done this or that right away, they would have cracked it in two days instead of two months.
There are many things to like about THE MIND'S EYE: if you are new to the series, you'll have the pleasure of starting with the first in the series; you'll also have the pleasure of getting acquainted with a very likeable detective. He's not young - someone rings the station and asks to be put through to the "grey one". I like the fact that he can admit he has made a mistake.

Van Veeteren is empathetic to the victims of crime - he's been where they are now: broken marriage, fragile childhood. There are some truly comic incidents too: imagine him lying on the floor having his back massaged by someone he went to interview. 
In these days of over long books, THE MIND'S EYE is a quick read.

I have a couple of the other titles on my shelves. Must read them!

My rating: 4.6

Other sites to check
Also reviewed in MiP: WOMAN WITH BIRTHMARK

The Van Veeteren series

1. The Mind's Eye (2008)
2. Borkmann's Point (2006)
3. The Return (2007)
4. Woman with Birthmark (2009)
5. The Inspector and Silence (2010)
6. The Unlucky Lottery (2011)
7. Hour of the Wolf (2012) 

3 comments:

kathy d. said...

I like Hakan Nesser and Inspector Van Veeteren. A Mind's Eye was an excellent police procedural with focus on one set of murders.

What I like beside the inspector and the thoughtful investigation is the humor that Nesser just drops in the middle of a page, as a thought or a spoken word. I had to stop reading to laugh.

Nesser is very talented and quite entertaining, the inspector another smart, cantankerous, yet lovable police detective, as our Sicilian wonder Montalbano.

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - I'm glad you liked this one as much as you did. I really like among many other things about this series the humour, the interplay among characters and the subtlety of the character development.

Susan said...

I have just bought this recently to read! I really enjoyed your review. I wish I could tell you if I liked Van Veeteren - I suspect I will. I have two others already in the series. I'm looking forward to meeting him, and then coming back and letting you know how I liked it.

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