The Weeping Girl – Hakan Nesser

[This amply demonstrates the power – and the danger – of Amazon. It started with me looking back at books I had enjoyed reading, then a quick visit to the web, and before you know it there are more books to read… All too easy.]

Though billed as one of the author’s Van Veeteren series, the former star of the police force is only involved in the margins. The lead is primarily taken by one of his proteges, DI Ewa Moreno. While on holiday, the policewoman has a chance encounter with a girl, Mikaela, on her way to see her father for the first time. The girl disappears, and then the father she was visiting – in a lunatic asylum – also disappears. What is going on?

I’ve come to see Nesser’s style as something of an acquired taste. For example, the central story is about a teacher – Mikaela’s father – who slept with one of his female pupils. That pupil’s pregnancy, and subsequent slaying by the father, is deeply embedded in the consciousness of the locals. But Nesser’s prose is laid back, almost pedestrian, and imbued with the apparently real life concerns of the characters beyond the crime. So, Moreno deliberates about her boyfriend and the possibility of settling down and having a family. Van Veeteren muses about old books. And so on.

Other readers may wish for more direct action and get up and go. For my part, the gentle peeling of the layers of the mystery is skilfully done, while delivering believable characters in a believable setting, with some observations about life as we know it.

In short, enjoyable crime fiction.