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The Return: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery Hardcover – 2007

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Hardcover, 2007
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Pantheon (2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375421971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375421976
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,217,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
I recently read Hakan Nesser's Borkmann's Point and The Return and rate the former "I like it" and the latter "It's okay." Borkmann's Point is set in a fictional small town on the Swedish coast, where Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is sent to aide the local force investigating two particularly grisly axe murders. Like most C.I.'s in most police procedurals, Van Veeteren is a wily veteran; unlike many, he treats colleagues and subordinates with respect and warmth. Nesser develops the characters and the setting in effective ways that encouraged me to care for the. investigation and to root for certain outcomes. I especially enjoyed the interplay between Van Veeteren and the soon-to-retire local Chief of Police, Detective Chief Inspector Bausen. Nesser excels at portraying the patience and doggedness that crime investigation require. However, one vital aspect of the narrative detracts: when the investigation drags on, and on, and seems to have stalled (and the story demands resolution) the sage old C.I. divines a solution without us readers privy to the process. Nesser doesn't bother to show how Van Veeteren arrives at all the right answers. All the effort I had poured into interpreting the clues and character studies became trite -- Nesser waved a magic wand and Van Veeteren solved the case.

I then read The Return, and again appreciated Nesser's ability to create likeable characters. Van Veeteren has a somewhat lesser role in this novel, counterbalanced by a rich portrayal of the apparent antagonist, Leopold Verhaven, who may have murdered two women (he has served twelve years in prison for each alleged murder) and may in turn have been killed upon release from prison.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Return" by Hakan Nesser is another novel in an excellent series. The translation is exceptional, and it is hard to imagine this book written in any other language than English. The Van Veeteren character, the older detective with broken marriage and a daughter in background, is perhaps too much like many other detectives in other language series, a bit of a stereotype nowadays, but the stories are all well written and make very good reads. "The Return" is a satisfying extension and development of the detective as a human being.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Scan Thriller Fan on Aug. 5 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is typified by a complete absence of sense of place. I kept on turning to the inside back cover to check I was reading a book about Sweden. The names and place names are confusing and the one reference to the country's currency mentions guilders. The story was quite good but not strong enough to hold up against the lack of background. Hope the next one's better.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anna Penney on Jan. 18 2010
Format: Paperback
Only four of Nessan's books have been translated into English and now that I have read them all I want more. Inspector Van Veeteren grows on you, the characters in the books come alive with Nessan's writing. You won't be sorry if you pick up any of the books and you don't have to read them in order.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 48 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Mankell Must Share the Spotlight May 26 2007
By A Discerning Reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Inspector Van Veeteren is the real gem in this budding series of police procedural novels written by Swede Hakan Nesser. Van Veeteren is the classic chief inspector--crotchety, brusque, prone to flashes of insight gained from mundane life, and a soft spot for his junior partner.

Whether he's driving around listening to Monteverdi or grousing about his upcoming surgery, the inspector manages to make the book funny and interesting. Nesser somehow manages to write just a little bit differently about life and happiness, and he injects reality into his characters that make them endearing. The plot is not all that gripping, but Mr. Nesser moves the storyline along nicely without getting bogged down in meaningless descriptions or red herrings.

At the end of the day, however, the characters make the book. Van Veeteren is the center, but his coworkers and associates are ones you'd like to get to know. Using his native Sweden makes Nesser's books even more interesting to the US audience that is just learning to love this author worthy to share the table with Henning Mankell.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A real policier Aug. 30 2007
By Blue in Washington - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the great things that has happened in mystery publishing over the past few years, is the flood of translated books from overseas which has given American (and other Anglophone) readers a new world of social and political perspectives through the genre. Hakan Nesser is one of these recently translated authors and a very good one, he is. "The Return," part of his Inspector Van Veeteren series, has the feel of an authentic police investigation throughout. The reader is taken through many routine interrogations in a murder investigation which only very gradually add up to a solution to the case. The case itself is bizaare and convoluted, involving the murders of three people, including a convicted murderer recently paroled from prison. While the central figure in the book is Chief Inspector Van Veeteren of the Maardam police, his junior colleagues get most of the story space here and their characters are well developed and credible. Oddly, though author Nesser is a Swede, his story is set in a small city in The Netherlands.

This is classic detective story that will be appreciated by any fan of this domain of fiction.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Nesser finally hits his stride with this third book in the series April 25 2011
By Jeff - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Return is the book in which Hakan Nesser really pulls away from his prior books in many different ways and delivers a very solid work with which it is difficult to find any fault.

Leopold Verhaven is a man twice convicted of murder. As the book begins, he is released from prison the second time and then he disappears. At the same time, a headless and handless body is found wrapped in a carpet off the beaten path in a remote stretch of woods in Sweden.

Inspector Van Veeteren is in the hospital for removal of a cancer in his abdomen, and must direct his team's efforts from his hospital room. Nesser is paying homage to a novel by Josephine Tey and openly acknowledges the point in one of the Inspector's musings.

Unlike his first two books, the narrative bounces back and forth between several different points in time over 50 years. This is a very strong improvement over the linear narrative of the first two books of the series. Nesser has really done a good job constructing this flow, and in developing many of his characters.

It's hard to review books like this without announcing spoilers. Let it suffice to say that this book is very well written, poses many questions about identity and morals in our post-modern world, and resolves itself with an act fraught with moral ambiguity that leaves the reader wanting more.

I liked the first two books, but The Return shows Nesser at a whole new level of the game. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and I suspect you will alsop.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A double murder becomes triple Sept. 23 2007
By Cory D. Slipman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Hakan Nesser's "The Return" is another of the good Swedish police procedurals translated for consumption by the English speaking market. On the whole, the novel is a compelling read diminished only by Nesser's shallow development of his characters except for the victimized villain. The author has a penchant for commencing chapters with riveting plot action without identifying his characters. While this makes the action suspenseful, is can also cause confusion.

The storyline revolves around an inquest conducted by Chief Inspector Van Veeteren and his squad of detectives in the Maardam police department. A decapitated corpse also missing hands and feet was discovered wrapped in a carpet by a pre-schooler in a wooded area during a class outing. Immediately the investigation was two pronged. Exactly who was the victim and who was his murderer?

Adding depth to the storyline Van Veeteren was being operated on for a colon resection owing to cancer. He would conduct the investigation in part from his convalescent bed.

The detectives soon discover that the victim was one Leopold Verhaven. The notorious Verhaven, once a world class middle distance runner, had served two separate 12 year prison terms for the murders of two young women he was romantically involved with. As Van Veeteren looks back at the evidence from the previous killings he gets the feeling that Verhaven might hane been innocent.

Using unorthodox means, Van Veeteren and his minions take great pains to uncover the identity of Verhaven's murderer, speculating that this person also committed the crimes that Verhaven was implicated for.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not the best VV Oct. 21 2012
By N. Boer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've recently gone on a Nesser kick, reading about 4 of his novels in a row (what can I say, sometimes you just need to read about a place with worse weather that where you live...). In general, I think Nesser is one of the strongest of the "Scandinavian wave" of crime writers - mostly because of his sense of humour, which he uses to gently make fun of all of his characters while also highlighting their humanity. These are not your usual stereotyped cop figures (yes, the Inspector is divorced, but his attempts to continue evading his ex-wife and avoiding his children are truly amusing), and all of the side characters are well-developed (he tends to focus on a different side character in each novel.)

That being said, this was probably my least favourite of the novels I read - not because Inspector Van Veeteren (VV) is in the hospital for most of the novel (that could potentially be an interesting plot twist) but because both the victim(s) and the perpetrator(s) (not giving anything away) are pretty boring, and the case is solved, not through one of VV's brilliant analytical breakthroughs, but mostly through coincidence.

I would recommend Borkmann's Point as the best book in the series (as far as I've read) - so if you're just getting into Nesser, or Scandinavian crime fiction in general, that's a good place to start.

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