The Strangler's Honeymoon is another instalment in Hakan Nesser's fascinating series of books featuring the now recently retired chief inspector, Van Veeteren. It was first published in 2001, but the Pan Macmillan edition that has just been published marks its first appearance. The translation by Laurie Thompson reads smoothly and well.
I came to this book just after finishing a best-selling example of Eurocrime, a book that seemed to me to tick the 'best-seller' boxes efficiently, but nevertheless had a formulaic feel. I'm clearly in a minority about that book, but suffice to say that I much prefer Nesser's writing. His novels have a quirkiness and unpredictability that makes them seem somehow more lifelike and more meaningful than some other acclaimed European crime fiction.
This story is absolutely first class and had me gripped throughout. The eponymous killer is an intriguing, deeply disturbed man. There are (mainly at the end of the book) one or two examples of the gruesomeness that seems obligatory, and sometimes rather tedious, in many best-sellers about serial killers, but here there is nothiing gratuitous. Nesser makes his characters, and the strange things that many of them do, seem very believable and real. For that reason, the darker scenes in his books don't seem contrived and exploitative in the way that is sometimes the case elsewhere.
I enjoyed the twists and turns of the storyline,the dabs of humour, and also the interplay of the characters - Nesser brings them all to life. There was a very nice clue, involving an imaginary Golden Age novel, that I enjoyed and felt more could have been made of, but this was only one of countless appealing touches. I've enjoyed all the Nesser books I've read, and this one might just be the most entertaining of all.