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on 19 August 2017
Good read
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 January 2016
My first response on seeing this book was a groan at its more than 600 pages – over 100 pages more than other books in the series and almost double the first, Borkmann's Point.
Many authors of the Scandi noir genre are now writing such doorstop books and very often there is a feeling of literary flatulence. Not here however as Nesser spins a story about a serial killer that is beautifully intercut with background stories about the familiar Maardam police characters - Reinhart, Münster, Ewa Moreno, Jung and Rooth, who are joined, much to Moreno’s delight, by a second female police officer, Inspector Irene Sammelwerk. Much of the enjoyment is a result of Laurie Thompson’s seemingly effortless translation of a novel originally published in Swedish as long ago as 2001.
As the story develops the reader meets the killer, whose identity is not revealed, as well as the victims, allowing tensions to build around the time and exact nature of the killings. The internal musings of the killer are gradually presented in a manner that is more psychologically assured than in most cases when this device is employed. The chapters shift between 1998 and 2001, and from Maardam and Wallburg in the anonymous Northern European country where the stories are set to the UK and, finally, Greece. Van Veeteren, now retired, in a happy relationship with the younger Ulrike and running an antiquarian bookshop only fleetingly appears until half way through the book when he is asked to formally join the investigation. His characteristic dourness and introspection are lessened by his relationship with Ulrike and with his baby granddaughter, Andrea, but his intuition and reasoning have not decreased with age. These, like all the relationship in the narrative are very sympathetically, but honestly, portrayed.
Nesser is second to none in combining dry humour and psychological intensity - at one point on of the characters reads the latest book by the famous Swedish novelist ‘Diza Murkland’. The police team painstakingly gather information about the deaths and edge towards their interconnection. Very refreshingly, the author presents the reader with a group of police detectives who are reasonably well-adjusted, not alcoholics, sleeping around or engaged in illegal activities. The identity of the killer is revealed well before the end of the book but even so Nesser maintains the tension right to the end.
The plots has many twists and turns and includes a priest wrestling with his conscience, dismembered limbs, bottles of hydrofluoric acid [nasty stuff], pregnancies, a secret society and a little-known 20th-century English detective story writer. Unlike many writers, Nesser does not concentrate on the gruesome nature of the killings, leaving this to the imagination of the reader.
As the author approaches the end of the series he maintains the highest of standards and, in the end, the book’s length was in no way inflated.
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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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 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 16 September 2015
Hakan Nesser's 'The strangler's holiday.

It was my first encounter with this series and I was impressed by the writing . The characters were well developed and they came into the plot tp play their role very nicely. The overall plot was good up until the final section (10%) of the book when the murderer became known to everyone. I shall go back to the start of the series and read more of Hakan Nesser as these books are entertaining and well written.
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on 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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on 8 September 2017
Great complex story that kept me enthralled for hours
Truly enjoyable read - highly recommended to any crime story affeccionado
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on 5 June 2017
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on 16 April 2014
This novel was originally written in Swedish and translated into English by Laurie Thompson and for me it lost a lot of fluidity in the process. The humour didn't translate well and unnecessary breaks in sentences made it a challenging read overall. I constantly had to think what the writer meant as the translation in some parts was not clear which did impact on my enjoyment of the book.

I kept reading as there was such a good degree of suspense and intrigue that I wanted to find out more about this murderer and who it was. I believe the author could have taken far less pages to get to the point but believe this was intentional in order to slowly build up suspense and to convey the long process of solving crimes of this nature.

The characters were all believable and necessary to the plot; once I got to grips with the translation I even enjoyed the humour that Nesser managed to bring through the detectives on the case and the retired Van Veeteren. I had not read anything by this author before and although I learnt that this was one of a series of books involving Van Veetern it was not necessary to have read any of his other novels in order to enjoy or understand this one.

The opening starts with a murder in Greece then switches back to Sweden in the small town of Maardam where a lonely and damaged 16 year old girl begins a relationship with her mother's lover. From here were are introduced to other characters as the novel builds and the storyline develops.

The character of Van Veeteren the retired police chief is superb, he has now bought an antique bookshop and after a visit from a priest troubled by a confession he finds himself unable to resist the temptation of becoming involved in the mystery that unfolds. Nesser seems to have a unique ability to be able to connect the reader with his characters in such a gentle way that it seems the characters are familiar from the start. Van Veeteran works on a combination of intuition and experience, he is highly respected by his former colleagues and as they try to solve the crime the reader is doing so at the same pace with all the information they have and all the clues (in this case not many) so that when the novel is concluded the reader gets a real sense of achievement as well as having had a good read.

This had a nice twist to the story that wasn't predictable and made the ending seem justifiable and allowed one character to turn the tables on the killer.

I would have given this novel a 5 star rating had it not been for the 'lost in translation' issues so I have given this a 4.5 star rating, having said this I would possibly attempt another Nesser novel if only to revisit the wonderful Van Veetern and his colleagues - also to find out if he was able to 'retire' or not!
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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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