Inspector Van Veeteren seems to be made in the shape of many other detectives in popular fiction, and at first glance seems to have all the right qualities to be popular ...dour, depressed, mouthy, brooding, dark, and of course with a totally destroyed private life. Fortunately for the reader he also shares the positive qualities of this role model ...sharp-minded, quick-witted, intuitive, and doesn't miss a trick. Like many people out there I have many many hundreds of books over the years, and a fair few of them thrillers. The problem I have with Van Veeteren, in this opening saga of his life, is that I didn't see anything to set him apart from any other character ...the story could have been about Inspector Pekkala, Harry Hole, or even Harry Bosch. Cross genders and it could have been about Martinson or any other hard-nosed copper. In spite of what I have said above I enjoyed the book. Sure, it annoyed me when he never shared anything with his side-kick, because I can't stand arrogance, and he is perhaps the most arrogant character that I have ever met, but the sharpness of his mind and the author's ability to drip-feed details in the right dose makes up for that. The storyline was complex enough to keep you guessing, but delivered in a style that masked the complexity quite nicely. Speaking of the author, praise must be given for his ability to control all elements of the plot in a very pleasing way. Like all "Scandi Books" - as they seem now to be categorised as - there is a plethora of foreign character names, place names, and national hang-ups about things like accents, but they do not get in the way of the storyline, or even tamper with the plot. Nesser is a good author, and worthy of at least a second outing, so his series of books featuring Van Veeteren will no doubt go on my Christmas shopping list. The only concern I have for Van Veeteren is that his arrogance and disdain for others will get in the way of me enjoying his stories, and that would be a shame, because Nesser delivers good stories. You should try this book to see what you think.
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