This is another Scandinavian author whose catalogue is gradually being translated for the North American audience. It features CI Van Veeteren, a Swedish cop with more than 30 years on the job. Van Veeteren is enjoying the final days of his summer vacation when his chief calls. Seems they're having a little problem with an axe murderer in nearby Kaalbringen. Would he mind popping over & having a look around? There he meets Bausen, the soon-to-be retired chief & his crew, one of whom is a young, ambitious detective named Beate Moerk. Unfortunately they're spinning their wheels. After exhaustive investigation there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind the murders. And while they shift through endless reports & interviews another victim falls to the axe. If you're into fast paced thrillers with car chase & things that go boom, this is not for you. Yes, it's a police procedural but it's also a character study of its' star, Van Veeteren. He's a man of a certain age who has closed every case in his career, save one. His personal life has not been as successful. He's divorced & alone with a son currently out on parole. He's not a flashy or aggressive character. Instead, he's the soft spoken guy on the periphery who sees & hears everything. Long walks & playing chess allow him to let the information percolate in his head until connections start to appear. It can be frustrating for those around him as he doesn't seem to be doing anything. Beate reacts by striking out on her own, desperate for action & to make a name for herself. It could cost her life. This is a slow, introspective read that is more about the characters than the case. Even the killer gets a chance to tell his gut wrenching story about his quest for revenge.Read more ›
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Internationally bestselling author Häkan Nesser makes his U.S. debut with this riveting tale of murder and suspense that reveals the deep humanity of the characters portrayed even as it sends chills up the spine. The first of many, one can only hope, on the evidence of this stylish, warm novel of detection. The novel is part of a series featuring Inspector Van Veeteren, who rather bucks the trend for Scandinavian detectives in that he's warm, funny, and likes good wine and good company. At the beginning of the book we find Van Veeteren on holiday in a, presumably, Swedish province; just as he's about to return home, a wealthy real-estate businessman is brutally murdered, with an axe, in a nearby town. Soon the case turns from bad to worse when another body turns up and one of Van Veeteren's colleagues, a young female detective, disappears without a trace. Now Van Veeteren must find the killer, before anyone else comes to harm. Riveting and intellectually satisfying, Borkmann's Point unfolds like a chess match where each move could prove deadly.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Van Veeteren pursue an ax murdererApril 28 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is vacationing when his superior calls to ask him if he could assist the Kaalbringen police department in solving the murders of an ex-con and a wealthy real-estate mogul, both of whom have been murdered with an ax. Bored and restless, the methodical Van Veeteren readily agrees, happily applying his considerable wealth of knowledge and experience to tracking the killer down. To Van Veeteren, it is only a matter of time before the killer is caught--the Chief Inspector believes deep down that he will recognize the murderer once he encounters him. His confidence is misplaced, however, as the investigation drags on for several weeks without uncovering a single promising lead.
A well-respected author in Sweden, Nesser, whose books have been published in fifteen countries, is not well known in the United States; in fact, Borkmann's point (which is actually Nesser's second novel) is the first of his books to be published in America. This state of affairs should change quickly though, as Borkmann's Point should easily win him numerous fans. Although it has a fairly familiar plot, the book distinguishes itself through its terse but thorough studies of the parties involved in the investigation, from Van Veeteren, to his various colleagues on the police force, and to the killer himself. As revealed through alternating vignettes, their personalities and thought processes shine through, creating a feeling of intimacy between the reader and Nesser's cast, a feeling that will turn into a longing for more once the last page is turned.
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Sweden's export trade in crime novels continuesMay 1 2007
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According to the trade statistics I have seen, the Swedish economy is almost completely driven by exports. In 2005 export trade accounted for almost 45% of Sweden's gross domestic product. Although I'd always thought this export trade was dominated by manufactured and primary goods I'm now coming to the (lighthearted) conclusion that the export of crime novels from Sweden must be one of its emerging export sectors. I've spent a good deal of time in recent months reading the Inspector Martin Beck series by the team of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (including "The Laughing Policeman" and "Roseanna") and the Inspector Kurt Wallander series by Henning Mankell (including "The Dogs of Riga" and "The Man Who Smiled"). Just when I thought I'd explored the entire body of Swedish crime fiction I came across Hakan Nesser's "Borkmann's Point" which is styled as "An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery" and felt compelled to see how it measured up to the other series. Although I enjoyed "Borkmann's Point" I found it somewhat less enticing then either the Beck or Wallander series.
"Borkmann's Point" is set in the coastal town of Kaalbringen. The protagonist, Inspector Van Veeteren, has been sent to help the (presumably) less-skilled local police in its investigation of two brutal axe murders. The victims appear to have no connection to each other. The story lines follow two parallel paths: Van Veeteren's investigation and his relationship with the local police force. Each story line is developed competently but neither the evidence-gathering nor the development of Van Veeteren's relationship with the locals really captured my imagination.
What I found most interesting in Borkmann's Point was the setting. Unlike Sjowall/Wahloo and Mankell, "Borkmann's Point" is not set in Sweden but in a fictional city, Kaalbringen, in a country in which the characters appear to have Dutch, German, Swedish, and Danish names. In other words, Nesser seems to have created a generic European country for purposes of his fiction.
On the plus side, "Borkmann's Point" is a well-written, thoughtful novel. Despite the gruesome murders that propel the story, "Borkmann's Point" is focused more on the process of police work, the art and arduousness of investigation and detection, rather than on a pillar-to-post thriller. The very title of the book, once it is explained about halfway through the book, is in itself a clue for both Van Veeteren and the reader as to the process of crime-solving. It is a fascinating point and one that should intrigue many readers.
On the minus side, I never really felt vested in the lives of the main characters in the books. I enjoyed the interplay between Van Veeteren and the local police force, particularly his evening spent drinking wine and playing chess with the local police chief but it wasn't so engaging that I hung on every word.
I'll probably give the next book in the series a look to see if Van Veeteren grows on me or not. Until then, I can give "Borkmann's Point" only a modest "thumbs up". L. Fleisig
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Yummy as a Swedish FishApril 29 2006
A Discerning Reader
- Published on Amazon.com
Nesser is a fine storyteller with a well-sketched hero named DCI Van Veeteren. This is story of serial murder, and the method is quite brutal--a sweeping blow from an ax to the back of the neck. No one has any idea who, in the small Swedish city of Kaalbringen, would do such a thing or why.
Van Veeteren is a lonely bugger whose wife has died (or left him, I can't remember which). He broods when he's alone and seems quite introspective even in company, although he has a quirky and laid back sense of humor. He enjoys good music, as his car stereo (but not his car) is quite luxurious. Who doesn't like a detective who listens to Sibelius while on a major manhunt? A suspect who looks forward to a warm fire on a cold night, listening to a Heyman quintet?
When you read a lot of police procedurals, as I do, you always appreciate a little thoughtfulness from your detective, as Van Veeteren muses on the autumn of his life:
"...did there come a point, he started to wonder, beyond which we no longer look forward to something coming, but only to getting away from what has passed? Getting away. Closing down and moving on, but not looking forward to starting again. Like a journey whose delights decrease in direct proportion to the distance traveled from the starting point, whose sweetness becomes more and more bitter as the goal comes closer."
Kurt Wallander would hang out with Van Veeteren, and that's enough for me. Laurie Thompson is a veteran translator who skillfully got Wallender to us in beautiful English, and he is in mid-season form with this material. Give Hakan Nesser a try--I know I'll read the next book I can get my hands on!
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A character rich award winning novelMay 5 2006
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In Kaalbringen, a quaint seaside town in Sweden, the population lives in fear. Two men have been killed by an ax murderer. One is an ex-con while the other is a wealthy businessman. The relentless detective Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is assigned to the case. The stakes get higher when another body is found. Can Van Veeteren and the local police solve the crimes before more lives are lost?
Hakan Nesser is a well known crime fiction writer in Europe. He has written a series of bestselling novels starring Inspector Van Veeteren. BORKMANN'S POINT is the first to be translated into English. The major strength of this work is the character of Van Veeteren. He is a likable detective, highly competent at what he does. The minor characters are also solid creations. This mystery is so character-driven that despite of the somewhat simple solution, the book as a whole works remarkably well. The setting of the seaside village is also described with great care. BORKMANN'S POINT won the best novel award for the Swedish Crime Writers' Academy in 1994. It is easy to see why.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
MASTERPIECE!! INTERNATIONAL DEBUT OF A SUPERB, AWARD-WINNING MURDER MYSTERYApril 8 2006
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Five Stars? No, SIX 'TOTALLY ENJOYABLE' Stars! To me, it's a MASTERPIECE of a detective novel. Hakan Nesser is an AWESOME storyteller of the first water with this award-winning novel in it's international debut, transparently translated from Swedish. "My Best Read" this year in the murder mystery/thriller genre!
Premise: There's a brutal killer on the loose in the seaside town of Kaalbringen and everyone's terrified! Inspector Van Veeteren is called in to help the local police. They have a self-imposed 14 days to catch the killer or the case may go cold. The reader will realize early on that the novel's title itself is almost as elusive as the guilty.
Many of us will be meeting the relentless Detective Chief Inspector Van Veeteren for the first time and he is a no-nonsense, very detailed, logically-thinking, but personally flawed sleuth. And his investigative associates are no less impressive. Nesser grabs us from the first sentence and ramps up all the way to the end. Trust me, it gets better and more engrossing as it goes along. I actually slowed down to enjoy the paragraphs, re-reading some passages over and over, stretching a day's read over a few enjoyable days. The dinner scene, for instance, between Police Chief Bausen and Inspector Van Veeteren is a pure joy to read (and re-read) as they discuss the clues over chess, revealing the ability of this writer to create wonderous scenes and dialogue out of the most mundane of situations. Nesser even introduces us to the unknown guilty several times, early on, putting us directly in their mind.
Somewhat gory and very technical (in a murder, he tells exactly where the weapon hits the body and the damage done, right down to the 'gurgling sound' as the body is dragged off). This is a fabulous 'police procedural' with unusually deep, totally believable examinations of the human condition and of the crimes. All while letting us superimpose our own impressions of the physical characteristics on each player with just a few hints. He even boldly reveals the guilty to the observant reader by three quarters through the novel, so that we can watch the cat and mouse game that ensues from that point. For those who miss the big clue, the resolution is a double jolting surprise. Either way, Nesser's got us boxed in; right where he wants us.
"The right questions...the right haystacks", Indeed! More Van Veeteren, please! It doesn't get much better than this. Five Stars? Let's call it SIX!! My Highest Recommendation! (Notes: *Thanks to Laurie Thompson for his wonderfull translation. This review is based on an unabridged Digital Download in Adobe Reader 7.0. Save a tree, download! *Maybe now the Van Veeteren films available on DVD will be closed-captioned in English and recorded in Region 1 DVD format for the enjoyment of fans in the US and Canada.)