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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Strangler's Honeymoon (Inspector Van Veeteren 9)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2014
Saved this for my recent holiday; a long book but I knew i wouldn't really wish to put it down once I started reading this latest Nesser. Plus Van Veeteren is back.
What an engrossing novel is The Strangler's Honeymoon; beautifully crafted and originally created around a serial killer plot with a difference. We follow in present time and historically a killing spree which seems to go unchecked, and where detective agencies appear baffled and unable to solve any crime let alone see a link between the murders.
Nesser is a master storyteller who demonstrates all his skills in this tightly plotted and cleverly assembled crime thriller/police procedural.
In fictional Maardam the team of detectives are well established; moving on following the retirement of Van Veeteran and recent books in this series have highlighted their skills. However, their present enquiries are becalmed; we read of a murderer who appears endowed with uncanny luck and good fortune while the police remain baffled without a name or details pertaining to any suspect.
This is a complex story that is never over complicated for the reader; you do not have to return to earlier chapters to recall characters or advance the plot. The author writes clearly in a fresh and compelling manner that enables the reader to feel fully involved and the events recounted are all the more scary in that it reflects every day life. You are hooked as with all of Nesser's books, and keen to learn the conclusion of his stories. This appears a long read but when the book ends you will wish like me that it could have continued for a 100 pages or more.
Never a slog, the pages fly by and is enjoyable throughout. A wonderful dark story filled with believable characters who populate every chapter of this excellent book.
This is an obvious modern working of the tremendous Swedish legacy which has its roots in the Inspector Beck series by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.
It elevates still further the outstanding Scandinavian Crime Fiction we all delight to read; Nesser is a firm favourite of mine and this stunning novel can only add to his personal kudos and established reputation bringing new fans to him and this genre.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 October 2013
It's always such a treat being immersed back into Hakan Nesser's carefully crafted world of detection and intuition, and with reading the whole series to date I am always left with a feeling after each, that the one just finished is now my favourite/the best of the series. The Strangler's Honeymoon does little to buck this trend, as I will say confidently that this could now be my favourite/the best...

There is something hypnotic about the gentle ease in which Nesser immerses you in one compelling thriller after another, and the refreshing attitude that he brings to the genre that not all detectives need to be either (a) prone to ludicrous bouts of reasoning and actions that are implausible or thrusting them into laughably dangerous situations that stretch our credibility or (b) are overly encumbered with emotional baggage to make them more interesting or dynamic to the reader. Aside from Moreno's natural cautiousness towards affairs of the heart, the central players in Nesser's world are unerringly likeable, empathetic and effortlessly engage the reader in their personal and professional lives, inveigling us completely in their methods of detection and the natural progressions of their investigations. On the subject of character, as much as I enjoyed The Weeping Girl and the more central role played by DI Ewa Moreno, I'm sure I was not alone in slightly pining for the appearance or intervention of her mentor Van Veeteren, now spending his days surrounded by antiquarian books, but still eager to exercise the little grey cells of detection. Van Veeteren is an integral player throughout the novel, as a young priest troubled by a confession, wends his way to our retired detective's door knowing of the man's former reputation, drawing our old favourite into Moreno's and her colleagues investigation into the murder of an emotionally unstable woman and the disappearance of her teenage daughter. Once again we see the steely mental cogs of Van Veeteren's intuitive mind that aid his former colleagues' investigation, but which are so inviting to us as readers as we are almost trying to solve the case at the same speed as our ardent detectives. The whole novel is tinged with the nuances of Van Veeteren's wonderful character and his natural wit and intelligence and supplanted with clever little references to the literary world that aid his methods of deduction, and add additional points of interest to this wholly engaging tale of obsession and murder.

Nesser's pacing of the plot is once again perfect, and the tying of the sunsoaked brutal opening scene to the final images of the novel provide a parentheses around the richly unwinding story of the life and times of a murderer, across split time frames, that unfolds gradually between the changes of location. This ebb and flow between different locations and periods is beautifully handled throughout, and Nesser's depiction of a particularly manipulative and remorseless killer is truly chilling, with a nice play on the old adage, hell hath no fury....

All in all another completely satisfying addition to one of my favourite series, unhindered by the usual cliches of the Scandinavian/European crime genre, that as readable as they are have become almost de rigeur of this genre. A marvellous series indeed.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 2013
This is the longest(at 626 pages) of the Van Veeteren Mysteries,
and also amongst the best.
Insular and lonely,16 year old Monica starts an affair with her
mother's lover that leads to her murder.As Van Veeteren's ex-
colleagues investigate,it becomes clear that the perpetrator
has other murders on his hands,and may kill again.
Van Veeteren, who has retired from the police and works as an
antiquarian bookseller,becomes heavily involved in the investigation,
after a priest who sought his help is discovered dead on a railway
track.
As usual with this author,set aside the plot is much humour in
the characterisation of the detectives,and sharp social observation.
A lengthy yet enjoyable and rewarding read.
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on 21 February 2014
The Strangler’s Honeymoon starts and finishes on a sunny Greek Island – but the bulk of the book (and there are 600+ pages of it…) is pure Scandinavian Noir, set in the fictitious North European city of Maardam. The Strangler’s Honeymoon was first published in Swedish in 2001, but the English translation (and an absolutely excellent one at that…) did not appear until last year. Indeed I think I am correct in saying that Nesser has written eleven Van Veeteren mysteries, but that only six of them have to date been translated.

That would seem a bit of an error to me. Nesser is every bit as accomplished a writer as either a Stieg Larsen or a Jo Nesbø. I am sure he deserves, and will get, their fame in due course. I truly hope so – if all his books are as accomplished as The Strangler’s Honeymoon (and I am told they are).

Van Veeteren is a somewhat grumpy 60+ retired detective who has bought an antiquarian bookshop to fill his twilight years with a hobby he loves. But he is never far from the force he used to work for – and the current crop of detectives still call him Chief Inspector and seek his wise intuition in solving crimes. And ‘intuition’ is the key word… Van Veeteren works with a combination of the evidence placed in front of him plus his instincts. He is drawn into The Strangler’s Honeymoon by the visit, just as he about to go on holiday, by a priest to the bookshop – a priest who senses foreboding and who wants to talk to him ‘as a policeman, but not as a policeman’. Van Veeteren is too rushed to talk then, but promises the priest a meeting on his return. When he returns Van Veeteren finds the priest killed in an ‘accident’ and a teenage girl brutally murdered. His suspicions and his involvement begin to grow as he works with the police (and in particular Eva Moreno) to track down the murderer – a man they also suspect of other crimes.

The fictitious Maardam is core to the story from the smart middle class areas to the seedier parts of the city. As you read you can sense the deprivation that some people have to survive – and the weather fits in perfectly. It is grey and dispiriting… and ties in neatly with the sick violence of the crimes. A truly ‘noir’ setting for the story…

The Strangler’s Honeymoon is very certainly a ‘page turner’, but it is a great deal more. The characters are well drawn, sympathetic, and believable. The relationship between Van Veeteren and the current members of the police force is not straightforward but it comes through in a way with which one can identify and empathise.

All in all The Strangler’s Honeymoon is an excellent book, and one that I would very certainly recommend.
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on 9 April 2014
This novel starts out by giving us a shocking insight into a murder from the POV of the killer and, though it does slow down at times to allow its policeman hero to ponder the meaning of life, it remains compelling reading right until the end. This is one of those European police procedural novels - think of the Wallander series on TV - which focuses heavily on the police team investigating the crime. Sometimes I find this irritating, here it was a pleasant diversion from the horror of the murders - the characters are all interesting and well rounded and I kept thinking what a great TV series it would make! The central character - whom I will call VV- since I have forgotten to spell his name - is a retired police inspector who still gets called back to solve the occasional crime. He is a highly erudite character who relies heavily on intuition and his knowledge of books to solve crime and since the murderer is also a highly educated man who leaves literary clues, this turns out to be an important factor in unmasking him

I was a little disappointed in the ending however - I was expecting some final twist which didn't happen and felt there were too many questions left unanswered - but that won't stop me hunting down Nesser's earlier books. A great new discovery!
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on 15 June 2014
I've loved Nesser's series about Van Veeteren and this may just be my favourite of the lot, despite the enigmatic detective's background role for much of it.

What sets this series apart from many similar ones is the humour. Even in the most dire circumstances, the banter between the characters is tremendously witty. Having been through so many books together, it's a bit like being with an old group of friends, the characters' insults and put-downs often laugh-out-loud funny. And all this against the backdrop of an investigation into murders (by strangling) of various women.

Van Veeteren does play a pivotal role of course, but for large chunks of the book is absent and his former colleagues are left trying to solve things themselves. I was nervous about that but it works just fine.

Only one Van Veeteren book left to be translated into English. I shall miss him greatly but look forward to whatever's next from this fabulous writer, my favourite of the Scandinavian crime writers.
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on 27 October 2013
I loved this book from beginning to end and Nesser is simply the best in this genre in my opinion. His books are beautifully written and translated and they keep the reader gripped all the way through. The characters are full of interest and totally believable with their various hangups and flaws and the storyline races along without losing any impact on the way unlike some of the other Nordic writings. Although Van Veeteren is supposedly retired, his involvement in the plot is made acceptable by the fact that it is woven in rather than being there just because he is who he is. The female characters are always more human than in other crime fiction and not stunningly beautiful or erudite. Nesser has taken crime writing to a higher plain as far as I am concerned and I would strongly recommend every reader to revel in his plots as they are not so complex as to confuse but cunningly outlined and completed. I so hope that Hakan is beavering away on Book 10 as I can hardly wait to see where VV goes to next!
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on 23 November 2013
Nesser continues to produce good solid Skandicrime, with The Strangler's Honeymoon the ninth book in the Van Veeteren series. My first encounter with Nesser's books was finding Borkmaan's Point in my local library about five years ago. His books are quietly understated, reflecting Van Veeteren's bookish character, whilst having a strong plot, dark atmosphere and an honest "warts and all" portrayal of Sweden. This latest book sees the Maardam police discovering the decomposing body of a murder victim, strangled and left in her own flat. They soon realise that this is not the first of the killer's murders and therefore unlikely to be the last. Meanwhile, Van Veeteren, now a former Chief Inspector, is drawn into the case after a priest who asks for his help falls under a train. Van Veeteren needs to help the police identify the mysterious serial killer before he strikes again. If you're a fan of Skandicrime, this is definitely for you. If you've not tried Hakan Nesser before, it's worth a punt.
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on 26 June 2015
The series of crime novels featuring Chief Inspector Van Veeteren amounts to ten volumes, of which this is the ninth, and I think the best so far. Perhaps the choice of a series of ten novels is deliberate, as a tribute to the pioneering series of ten by Per Wahloo & Maj Sjowall. The Van Veeteren series is set in an unnamed Northern European country in a fictional city called Maardam. The place & people's names sound Dutch but the descriptions in the books give no indication that this is the case. Sweden it definitely isn't, for when the inspector, now retired and runs a bookshop, was given a book in Swedish he said he couldn't read Swedish. I don't know how this spatial displacement of a fictional city contributes to the narrative. Putting this aside, this is a crime novel that, like many Scandianvian crime novels (Mankell, Fossum, Ekman, Alvtegen etc.) concentrates on psychological insights rather than action.
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on 22 October 2014
I have never really found that Nesser was a match for the other Scandi heavy weights , he has been a midsummer writer I turned to only when there was nothing else on the shelf . However this is an unpleasant book , badly translated and at times as if the editor said ; lets have more graphic violence to please our readers . And to cover the holes in the silly plot and the endless tedious passages in the police talking and getting no where at all . The ending when it did finally arrive was a rushed hardly described scene so veiled and concealed by the increasingly bizarre language used by Van Veeteren I just felt cross I had given 2 hours to such rubbish . .
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