Well, not really, but Håkan Nesser
's The Return
is a bit bleaker than the same author's excellent Borkmann's Point
, about which I posted here earlier this week.
Nesser has given the targets of the police investigation in this novel more desperate lives than their predecessors in Borkmann's Point, which he published a year earlier. (1994 for Borkmann's Point, 1995 for The Return. The English translations followed in 2006 and 2007, which makes one wonder why this splendid writer was not rendered into English earlier.) In addition, the lead investigator, Inspector Van Veeteren, struggles with a medical problem throughout The Return. (He survives.)
The tone here is harsher, the questioning of suspects and others more psychologically brutal than in the earlier novel. Yet there is precious little, if any, melodrama or self-pity in either book. It is characteristic also of Nesser's playfulness that even as Van Veeteren is laid up while the investigation progresses, he makes a sly reference to that other crime classic about a bedridden investigator, Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time.
Nesser may have refined his technique as a mystery writer in the interval between the two books. Van Veeteren's solution of the killings in Borkmann's Point has a faint whiff of cheating to it, which I can obviously not detail here. But please do not let this deter you from reading either novel. Borkmann's Point and The Return are not just two of the finer crime novels I've ever read, but two of the most distinctive.
And now Nesser had better get translation deals for more of his novels, or I'll have to start learning Swedish.© Peter Rozovsky 2007
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