This is another in the generally excellent Van Veeteren series, and another that takes place after the great man’s retiral. Former Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is approached by a priest. But Van Veeteren cannot give him the time needed and when next available, the poor priest is already dead, having apparently committed suicide. We dear readers know that this is connected to the tragic tale of a mother and daughter caught in a monster’s spider web of deceit, lies, corruption, and murder.
DI Ewa Moreno is the leading police – as in serving police – character. But Van Veeteren, from the safety of his antiquarian bookshop, makes a significant contribution. The hunt is on for a clever serial killer.
Characterization? My take is that there’s a greater emphasis on the killer than in other of Nesser’s books. It’s not overbalanced, but it sometimes gets close. Moreno and her challenges are interesting, but the Chief Inspector’s shadow is always there.
Plot? Not too many layers to peel away, and not too many surprises. But believable, taut, and tense.
Overall, this is no easy read because there is some graphic content that pops up in between the author’s finely crafted prose. But it’s worth it. Nesser creates a gentle ambience, edged with shades of grey, highlighting the horror, and then returns you to the show. You read on, drawn in to his all too real world.
Of all the Van Veeteren books I have read thus far, this is the one least likely to appeal to a reader not into crime fiction. But it has a lot to say, and is sufficiently meaty that I may well read it again.
Hakan Nesser? That guy can write!