The Super Fun Kids' Graphic Novel Sale

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006


Borkmann's Point: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery


If Harry Bosch Were Swedish

A review by Anna Godbersen

Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, the hero of Swedish crime writer Hakan Nesser's Borkmann's Point is an oenophile and a chess connoisseur and does not, at a glance, have a whole lot in common with his American counterparts. As a detective, his strength is not of the physical or logical kind; his intuition, much deeper than the basic hunch, is an almost mystical tool. (A newspaper runs a photo of him in a position that suggests, "a mummy or a yogi sunk deep inside himself.") But he does have that familiar Oedipal back-story -- a child on the other side of the law -- and in this case it may just help him relate to a murderer on the loose. Or rather, an ax wielding maniac on the loose. Van Veeteren has been called into the sleepy seaside town of Kaalbringen, to assist the local police in the investigation of two murders by ax, soon to be followed by a third. The local force -- with the exception of one exerholic female cop -- is dopey and in the habit of eating Danishes during meetings, but Van Veeteren fits in well enough. He likes Danishes, too, and soon strikes up a gentlemanly friendship with Chief of Police Bausen, and they manage games of chess over bottles from Bausen's wine cellar in between interrogating locals about a case that seems to have no leads. In the end, intuition beats out leads, and in the place of a labyrinth of clues and false starts there will be one simple and satisfying twist.

The Van Veeteren series is a hit in Europe, and Borkmann's Point is the first of Nesser's books to be translated into English. It is spare and wry, short on cliffhangers and long on atmospherics. It sucked me in, despite all that.

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