The Unlucky Lottery, once again set in Sorbinowo - a forested Swedish lake side town - is an enjoyable romp that explores not only murder but deeply hidden secrets, secrets that have stayed undiscovered and undisclosed for decades until one pivotal moment causes a ripple effect that changes the lives of all those around it.
In Håkan's previous book - The Inspector and The Silence - it was driven for the most part by Inspector Van Veeteren, a curious, colourful and enigmatic character that certainly carried the book. Towards the end of that book we discover that Van Veeteren has decided to take a sabbatical and work in an antique book store much to the chagrin of his fellow officers. The Unlucky Lottery follows on from this decision, months down the line in fact, and Van Veeteren is comfortable, relaxed and still enjoying the life of leisure, rolling his own cigarettes and sitting in a comfortable chair staring at antique books - getting to know his books he calls it.
In fact, Van Veeteren plays but a cameo role in this book which in turn allows another character to step forward and bask in the limelight - Inspector Münster. Although out of sight, Van Veeteren is never out of mind and the police officers often refer to the great master and comment on how he would approach a particular suspect and pondering what he would do in their shoes.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book - apart from being a very quick read - was the storyline. Waldemar Leverkuhn is out celebrating a lottery win with his fellow winners and the next day he's found brutally stabbed to death in his bed. That same day another member of his small syndicate - and close friend - mysteriously goes missing. It's all very baffling for the police and they never quite get to grips with the curious events. I have to admit that I never saw the twist coming at the end and the way Nesser crafted this story out of seemingly nothing was terrific. I did find myself wondering where he was going with the story but it all made sense in the end. Nesser has this seemingly natural ability to tie things up with consummate ease.
Another plus for me was the way he portrayed the police officers. They come across as amateurish and as with his previous book I wondered if they would ever catch those responsible for the crimes committed. I'm not sure if these scenes are supposed to come across as humorous but they did make me chuckle at their ineptitude and lack of urgency.
So there we have it, another cracking title from the Swedish master Håkan Nesser, it just goes to prove that there's something other than Swedish Meatballs being exported out of Sweden worth getting your teeth around. Roll on his next title!