Friday, July 4, 2008

Mind's Eye by Hakan Nesser

The actual first installment in the Inspector Van Veeteren mystery novels, Mind's Eye is a treat waiting for anyone who hasn't discovered this excellent series yet. Two pieces of advice first: leave off reading the plot synopsis on the dustjacket -- it gives away far too much of the plot; and secondly, be prepared for a very different kind of police procedural. Hakan Nesser has taken the genre that the British so excel in (and which we are so familiar with) and managed to make it something intriguingly and uniquely his.

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 something about Janek's protestations sets Van Veetern rethinking the entire case, and before long finds himself involved in one of the darkest cases of his career...

This is the second Inspector Van Veeteren I've read (The Return being the other one); I've enjoyed both of them very much. Nesser's prose style, while economical and a little sparse at time, and his star detective, Van Veetern is a bit of a curmudgeon, impatient and condescending to boot, and seems to make connections in the case at hand that one doesn't always see and which he doesn't always share with his colleagues, but Neser's clever plotting and is brilliant character portrayals made Mind's Eye a very compelling and very engaging read. It was literally unputdownable and I simply had to read on until the very last page. A very good read indeed.

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