It was an early morning in August; Leopold Verhaven walks free after serving twenty four years in prison for double murder. He feels the first rays of warmth from the sun on his face; his aim, to quietly return home. On a rainy day the following April a child on a field trip wanders off into the woods alone, frantically the adults and party of friends search for the young girl they find her safe but disturbingly sitting next to a mutilated corpse half wrapped in carpet.
A new case for Chief Inspector Van Veeteren or was it? His stubborn determination not to let a case go unsolved, even if it was from a hospital bed while recovering from surgery. The decomposing body is soon identified as a local man the murderer Leopold Verhaven or so they believe. Van Veeteren becomes rattled at this news, his quick to reopen the old cases for the killings of Verhaven two lovers. Could it be that Verhaven had been judged by character and not by evidence all those years ago, was it never on anyone lips he may have been innocent? Maybe Verhaven really did commit those crimes and now this lastest killing is someone's act of revenge at long last. The only way to solve this present case was to review old documentation with complicated history of what now could be a few near perfect murders.
This Swedish series is coming to us translated out of order and quiet some years later. The Return I certainly prefered much more to the pervious novel, one small drawback for me, I felt some other police characters part of Inspector Van Veeteren team needed to be a bit more developed, you get the feeling you touch base with them but something is being held back, still we may learn more as the translation series goes on.
One character that really shines through in this book is Van Veeteren, after his serious surgical procedure his in a lighter philosophical mood with more humor and irony surfacing; and with that wonderful no nonsense attitude that I just happen to love, he couldn't go wrong. He also faces the prospect in this one of taking the law into his own hands, as he realizes the flaws in the justice system. Van Veeteren overstepping certain boundaries is very intriguing to read.
Another reason I found The Return more enjoyable would be the jump back and forth in time looking at different angles into a close-knit community with changes taking place and testimony from witnesses being broken down. We as the readers are let lose for a while, staying one step ahead of the police, the author gives to us a little extra piece of information on a certain date and time line, I found that very clever and interesting.
Håkan Nesser the Author worked as a teacher in Uppsala before turning his hand to writing Novels. In Sweden, his detective stories around Inspector Van Veeteren has received numerous honors. After reading this Novel I'm looking forward to future books in translation from this Author.
Wonderful psychological thriller. Recommended.