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on 9 March 2017
I wish I was a quicker reader !! Not read yet but other Haken Nesser books have been very enjoyable
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on 13 March 2017
Another great tale from the master grime writer Hakan Nesser.
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on 5 June 2012
This was easy to read and the translation flowed nicely. The end had a very unexpected but believable twist. In between there were some interesting characters
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on 17 April 2017
Excellent Book.
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on 15 November 2014
After an intriguing beginning, neither the plot nor the characters held my attention. The police seemed to do little but discuss the difficulties of the case, and because of a poor translation, this dialogue was even less convincing. It limped on to a completely predictable conclusion and although the series can only improve, I won't be reading any more by this author.
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2016
Every once in awhile you find an author and a series that takes you by surprise, and you want to read the entire series. This was the series for me. This is highly packed with mental and physical anguish, murder and mayhem, and one of the best police crime teams I have come across.

The author, Hakan Nesser, knows his worth. The skillful writing is what places these police procedural/mystery/psychological thrillers at the top of my list. I read Hakan Nesser's latest book, 'The Cry of the Wolf' first and liked it so much , I ordered his first, second and third books.

As this book evolves the characters react, and the psychological suspense is overwhelming. One by one the clues are discovered, people are interviewed, little bits of information not deemed important at the time turn into the big 'get'. The fear, anguish and thrill of the hunt are all placed in perspective. The detail, the suspense and the plot keeps us spellbound. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren , is a man who is described as gruff and unpleasant by those who have met him, exasperating by his closest colleagues, and an intelligent, industrious detective by his superiors. He has closed 20 of his 21 cases, and That one that got away keeps him in check.

I absolutely love the humor that the author imparts in this book. Beside the dark drama of the world of a killer, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, imparts wisdom to his colleagues, like finding the solution involves finding out the secrets of the dead. The team work, the badminton games with his colleague, his unusual family life, and his dedication to his job, makes this murder mystery/police procedural one of the best I have read in recent times.

In this storyline, Van Veeteren is on the last day of his vacation. His superior calls! A gruesome axe murder has occurred. Would Van Veeteren mind staying on, the local police have requested assistance. Van Veeteren accepts the case, and off he goes. The police team has several good detectives, and they work well with VV. He is keen of mind, works with his team, and one by one the clues come together. The murderer may be a surprise, but I had an inner gut feeling.

Highly Recommend. prisrob 01-18-16
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 January 2016
The second in Håkan Nesser’s ten-book series about Inspector Van Veeteren and his colleagues but the first to be translated into [American] English by Laurie Thompson is set in the small coastal city of Kaalbringen. The detective has been on vacation nearby with his disturbed son, Erich, which had been less than successful, and so welcomes an intrusion into his holiday resulting from the actions of a serial killer that the media call ‘The Axman’ [sic].

The action is set in a Northern European country with the names of the characters and locations coming from a range of countries, including The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Germany. The title does not refer to a geographical site but to the opinion of Van Veteren’s early mentor, Borkmann, presented on p. 231, that there comes a time in any investigation when sufficient information has been gathered to solve the crime. Further information is counterproductive, only serving to confuse, whilst less is insufficient. The challenge for the investigator is to know when this point has been reached.

Here the investigation team, Van Veteren and Münster from Maardam, and a group of local investigators led by Bausen, who is very keen to catch the killer,
before his impending retirement. He is supported by the ambitious but relatively inexperienced Beate Moerk, Kropke a rather naïve techno-freak who may succeed Bausen and a rather dim couple of Constables, Bangs and Mooser. Münster, who has annoyed his wife by agreeing to join the investigation, finds himself attracted to Moerk.

The killer’s victims seemingly have little in common but their recent arrival in Kaalbringen and before long the killings cause near-panic amongst the local people who, in their attempts to support the police, almost submerge them in information. When one of the investigatory team goes missing after leaving a note suggesting knowledge of the [unnamed] killer, Van Vetteren finds himself in a race against time.

Periodically the author allows the reader to hear the killer’s voice and, whilst this is now a very common device, it has rarely been handled as well as here. The reader’s attention to detail is vital as the author does not indulge in literary spoon-feeding and belabor explanations.

Van Vetteren is a cerebral detective, prone to introspection and intuition. Nesser’s great strength, ably assisted by his translator, is his characterisation. Since relatively little happens, in other hands the story might seem weak but the characters, in general, and Van Vetteren, in particular, are drawn with great skill and authenticity so that one soon forgets the quirkiness of their names. I returned to this book having followed all the other books in this series except the last. Nesser’s handling of Van Vetteren’s personal story, up to and into his retirement, and the changes in his professional team offer an example to other authors who too often fail to nail the incremental nature of these developments.

Perhaps readers favouring action and violence will be slightly disappointed [two old detectives ruminating over a chessboard would be dire but for the quality of the writing] but the psychological insights allied to the humour resulting from the behavior and statements of the junior members of Bausen’s team [and the senior detectives’ world-weary responses to them] make this a very enjoyable read. Any book that begins ‘Had Ernst Simmel known he was to be the Axman’s second victim, he would no doubt have downed a few more drinks at The Blue Ship.’ Has me hooked.
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on 2 May 2011
Having become hooked on Scandinavian crime writing due to Henning Mankell's Wallander series, I was eager to try out Håkan Nesser's Van Veeteren. I chose to start with Borkmann's Point, as it sounded intriguing, and I was not disappointed.

This story is well-crafted, with a compelling mystery that kept me hooked until the very end. Van Veeteren is convincing in the same way that Wallander and Martin Beck are, and is immediately very likeable and sympathetic, despite his curmudgeonly nature. I found it easy to identify with him and to follow his train of thought. The other characters also come across well, with the other detectives being good foils to Van Veeteren.

Nesser's writing style is easy to read, with about the right balance of description, plot development and commentary. There are also occasional flashes of humour, which balance out the rather dark nature of the mystery itself. I thought that the plot advanced at more or less the right speed, and I found it so intriguing that I was soon unable to put the book down. The twist at the end literally made my jaw drop!

I was extremely glad that I picked this book up, and it has inspired me to go on and read the rest of Nesser's books that have so far been translated. This novel is well worth reading, along with the rest of the series, and hopefully it won't be too long before more of Nesser's work is translated into English.
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VINE VOICEon 21 May 2012
This excellent crime novel falls within the sub-genre of police procedural. The author may have been influenced by the Martin Beck series of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. We have the same interest in police procedure evidenced, for example, by the painstaking efforts of Inspector Kropke with his pins of many colours stuck into a map, the quoting verbatim of an interview as dialogue in transcript form, and van Veeteren's habit of chewing on a tooth-pick lifted from the same habit of the Malmö detective, Per Månsson, in the Martin Beck series. All of these could be coincidental, of course, but Nesser is also Swedish so, unlike the rest of us, did not have to wait for translations, and the Martin Beck series was complete before Nesser started writing.

Nesser sets the action in the fictional town of Kaalbringen, and since he does not tell us where it is we can guess if we want, though we don't have to. Most of the names in the book are Dutch, but quite a few are German as well. Since Kaalbringen is on the coast we might suspect that it is situated on the Dutch coast, on the Belgian coast in the Flemish part of the country (not likely, if we look at the map), or perhaps on the German coast in an area with a Dutch enclave. The author may have drawn a plan of the area for his own guidance but, if so, it isn't included in the book. I can see only one advantage in creating a fictional location like this, namely, that no one can say, `But that wasn't how things were done in Kaalbringen in 1994!'

Three men are killed by having an axe firmly planted in the back of their neck, the axe being left there after the third murder. This suggests that the third murder may be the last and that the murderer had definite reasons for murdering these three people but also that he is unlikely to murder anyone else. The problem is figuring out what the three men have in common, and it proves to be intractable.

The lead detective is van Veeteren, who has many years of experience. His character is well drawn, as are those of some of the other characters. We know that he lives alone and is probably lonely as well. For example, when he sees a colleague at the grave of his wife he feels envious, presumably of the closeness the couple had shared in the past.

Beate Moerk, the officer who first notices a major clue, is kidnapped by the murderer and so is unable to pass her information on to the team. But this is not the murderer's motive for kidnapping her. He wants someone to whom he can explain why he acted as he did. He does this in instalments, taking a lengthy break between each explanation. The only weakness of the book lies in the suggestion that he has not made up his mind what to do with Moerk when his story is complete. He had clear reasons for murdering his three victims, none at all for harming Beate Moerk. Quite the opposite, in fact, though I can't reveal why without spoiling the book for the reader.

Comparing those sections where the reader is with the murderer to similar sections in other books, they are superior to any I have read. Although Moerk's situation is serious and unpleasant, we are taken into the mind of the killer and meet someone who has had much sorrow to bear and acquaints us with it well. The killer's actions are unusually clearly motivated.

This is a thoughtful book and the quality of the writing is high.
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VINE VOICEon 12 June 2012
Hakan Nesser's van Veeteren novels are enjoyable, accessible works of fiction, conveying well the mood of the country in which they're set in a slightly more understated, realistic way than some other works in Scandi crime writing.

Here, if anything, the plot is slightly guessable as the book unfolds, but that said, it is much to Nesser's skills as a writer that this almost doesn't matter. It's rare to feel sympathy for killers and other troubled folk in crime novels, and yet here, the storyline is all too realistic, the motives understandable, so this adds a welcome dimension to the work.

Van Veeteren is a realistic, sympathetic character to drive the proceedings. Shipped in to solve a spate of brutal murders, he's not an all guns blazing cop, but rather a more softly, softly character, which again, makes it all the more realistic.

The sense of time and place is well-drawn by Hakan Nesser, and although this may not be as strong as other titles in the series, it certainly doesn't disappoint.

The Kindle edition seems to have come from the US translation, as several words in the text are spelled in US format, and some of the type-setting also leaves something to be desired, proving yet again that sloppy standards seem to apply to some e-book formatting. This particular title was "deal of the day" at 0.99 so I could live with it - but I wouldn't be happy paying full price for this with some formatting errors present. Overall, didn't detract from the pleasure of the story, but e-book readers deserve the same standards as paper-based editions. Publishers take note please.
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