The Return: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery Hardcover – 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
This is classic detective story that will be appreciated by any fan of this domain of fiction.
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.
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.
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.