MIND’S EYE by Hakan Nesser

Book Quote:

“He still had no idea who he was.

He didn’t think this had happened before.  He had certainly woken up and not known where he was.  Or what day it was.  But his name.. had he ever forgotten his name?

John? Janos?”


Book Review:

Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky (JUN 27, 2009)

In Håkan Nesser’s Mind’s Eye, a high school teacher named Janek Mitter finds his wife of three months, Eva Maria Ringmar, drowned in their bathtub. When Mitter is accused of murdering her, he has no alibi. He claims that, on the night in question, he was asleep in the next room after drinking too much, and awoke the next morning suffering from a massive hangover. His defense lawyer candidly tells Mitter that his story is unconvincing. However, Detective Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is not completely sold on the husband’s guilt. When a second shocking crime follows on the heels of the first one, Van Veeteren and his team face the daunting task of finding a killer whose boundless rage impels him to commit unspeakable acts.

Mind’s Eye is not a typical murder mystery. Nesser’s biting wit and black humor serve as a sharp counterpoint to an exasperating inquiry that turns out to have many unexpected twists and turns. (In one hilarious scene, a witness that he is interrogating gives Van Veeteren a massage to ease his aching back.) VV, as he is known, is successful at his job because he is an intelligent and forceful leader (although he can be sarcastic, cranky, and patronizing at times), and also because he is curious and capable of making imaginative mental leaps. He doggedly pursues every lead, no matter how tangential. Far from being falsely modest, VV prides himself on “being the best interrogating officer in the district, possibly in the country.” He wastes no effort on political correctness or deferring to his superiors; Van Veeteren is very much his own man.

All of the characters are a bit off-beat. Mitter cracks jokes and refuses to act deferential, even during his trial. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren has a rather unsettled personal life and an obsession with beating his long-suffering colleague, Inspector Munster, at badminton. The introspective Van Veeteren has grown cynical over the years and longs for a life of ease after retirement when he will be able to rid himself of the “feeling of disgust and impotence” that goes with the job. Munster dreads the grueling task of tracking down a suspect. They were “hemmed in by questions and answers and guesses in a slow but inexorable search for the right track.” If they were to make one wrong turn, not only would they be wasting valuable time, but the murderer might conceivably strike again.

Nesser is a fluid writer and Laurie Thompson’s translates expertly from the Swedish. The dialogue is lively and often amusing, and the plot provides enough clues for the armchair detective to take a shot at figuring out whodunit. This police procedural, like so many others, demonstrates why  many homicide investigators become emotionally hardened, are incapable of staying happily married, and develop stomach ulcers. Pursuing murderers is, indeed, “a nasty business,” but Nesser also makes it an entertaining one.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 9 readers
PUBLISHER: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 16, 2009)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Wikipedia page on Håkan NesserOfficial website for Håkan Nesser in Swedish
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and or Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Other authors of interest:The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Indian Bride by Karin Fossum

Partial Bibliography:

Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery (translated so far):

June 27, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Humorous, Sleuths Series, Swedish Crime Writer, Translated, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

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