Sunday, 3 August 2008

The Mind's Eye

One of the complications of reading new(ish) crime series in translation is that the books are often not published in the UK in the order in which they originally appeared. With some series, this makes little difference. With others, it does matter.

A case in point is the work of Sweden’s Hakan Nesser. I read Borkmann’s Point, featuring Inspector Van Veeteren, a couple of years ago, and enjoyed it. I missed out on The Return, but now The Mind’s Eye has appeared – and it seems that this book was actually the first to appear. Originally called The Wide-Meshed Net, it was awarded the 1993 Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Prize for new authors. On balance, this latest book would be, I think, the best place for readers new to Nesser to start.

The translation by Laurie Thompson makes for a lively read, even though VV himself is, in the best Scandinavian cop tradition, prey to depression. The story opens when Janek Mitter wakes up, feeling unwell, and discovers that his gorgeous new wife Eva has been murdered. Mitter can’t remember what happened to her, and is duly tried and convicted of the killing. But VV cannot still his doubts and a further brutal killing makes it clear that dark forces are at work.

I liked the central plot idea very much. The only snag is that I cannot believe that the killer would have acted in the way he did – notably, leaving Mitter alive. It doesn’t seem to fit his psychological profile. But others may disagree. In any event, this issue did not spoil the story for me and I shall definitely look out for more books about Van Veeteren.

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