Nesser, Hakan - 'Borkmann's Point' (translated by Laurie Thompson)
BORKMANN'S POINT is the second book in the Inspector Van Veeteren series, but the only one currently available in English. Nesser lives in Sweden and has set his book in a fictitious small Scandinavian town.
An ex-con is murdered by a blow from a very unusual, extremely sharp instrument. Soon a real-estate mogul is killed in the same way seemingly with the same weapon. Van Veeteren, who was holidaying on the coast nearby, is stopped from returning home and sent to help the local under-experienced police team. Van Veeteren finds an immediate friendship with Bausen, the head of the local police, due to retire any day now. Bausen is very anxious to get this serial killer, dubbed unsurprisingly, The Axman, caught and stopped so that he doesn't have to retire with this case outstanding.
The local team is made up of two investigators: Beate Moerk who is trying very hard, but she's very inexperienced and Kropke who is very full of himself, but very obsessed with technology and extremely naive. There are also two Constables - Bangs and Mooser - again a bit bumbling and out of their depth. Van Veeteren brings Munster, one of his own team down to the small town to assist, and the whole group tries desperately to find some sort of link between the victims. When a third victim is found, this time with the weapon itself, there's still no obvious link and the weapon, no matter how unusual is old and doesn't help much either.
Slowly an idea of a connection between the victims starts to reveal itself to Van Veeteren, as the murderer's thinking is slowly revealed to the reader.
There's nothing much in the solution that the reader can't see coming in this book. BORKMANN'S POINT is actually a reference to a theory on solving crimes that a senior officer tells Van Veeteren years before and in this case, it's actually quite true. There is a point in the book, quite a bit before the finish where it's possible to see the solution quite clearly.
There's a good sense of humour at play throughout the book which certainly helps and Van Veeteren is one of those rumpled detective types that does appeal to me in particular, but there was something about the arch tone of some of the conversation which just didn't quite sit right. Add to that the fact that it wasn't the most original or involving mystery, it wasn't the WOW read that other recent books have been.
Having said that, it was definitely readable, with a good sense of place, a nice sense of humour and a cast of characters with some potential.
Karen Chisholm, Australia