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Nesser, Hakan - 'Woman With Birthmark' (translated by Laurie Thompson)
Paperback: 256 pages (Apr. 2010) Publisher: Pan ISBN: 0330492799

It's a cold December day and a young woman is burying her mother and she is the only mourner at the funeral. This burial triggers a vendetta of vengeance. First one man is shot several times at close range, following a series of phone calls where an old instrumental tune is played over the phone. The police are baffled and appeal to the public for assistance, but before long a second man is murdered. Van Veeteren, Reinhart, Munster and other police colleagues have to try and delve into the past to try and solve the murders and prevent more men from being killed.

This is the fourth novel featuring Chief Inspector Van Veeteren and his colleagues. They have been published from the original Swedish slightly out of order, but this does not detract from the stories. The author is Swedish but the books are set in a fictitious northern European country. Personally I would prefer using real locations as it helps to create atmosphere.

Van Veeteren is a chess playing, beer loving, divorced, curmudgeonly character. Munster is usually his preferred colleague but it is the laconic Reinhart who comes to the fore here. The book keeps you involved throughout and is a very good police procedural. I was not completely convinced that given the background of the killer that they would then be so skilled at disguise and subterfuge! The instrumental number is an old Shadows number. Was this put in for the translation into English or were the Shadows popular in Sweden back in the 60s?

Translated by the very experienced Laurie Thompson this novel continues what is an absorbing series.

Read another review of WOMAN WITH BIRTHMARK.

Geoff Jones, England
August 2010

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 29/08/2010 10:18