Nesser, Hakan - 'The Mind's Eye' (translated by Laurie Thompson)
Having been presented first with BORKMANN'S POINT (2006) and then THE RETURN (2007), numbers two and three in the Inspector Van Veteeren series, finally we readers in translation have been allowed to read the first in the series, THE MIND'S EYE.
In THE MIND'S EYE we get some of the family background alluded to in BORKMANN'S POINT and meet some of Van Veteeren's (VV) team who reappear in THE RETURN. The only constant in all three books, apart from VV, is his sidekick and protegee, Munster.
THE MIND'S EYE begins with a teacher, Janek Mitter, waking up in his apartment with an almighty hangover and memory loss and discovering his wife and fellow teacher, Eva Ringmar, drowned in the bath. The police arrest him and he is subsequently tried for her murder. He doesn't think he's guilty but does little to help himself in court and so it's no surprise when he's sent to a psychiatric hospital. However, once there, a mix-up in medication allows some memory to return. He naturally contacts the police but his message goes astray and less fortunately for him his message to another person arrives safe and sound and sets off a chain of events which takes VV on a journey to the coast, and back in time to discover what lies behind the death of Eva Ringmar.
The VV series is set in a fictitious European country with words and names taken from many languages and there is a slightly surreal feel to the whole series. VV is a maverick and though he's been likened to Camilleri's Montalbano, to me he's more like Vargas's Adamsberg with that same encyclopaedic knowledge and ability to make intuitive leaps.
THE MIND'S EYE is a quick read, partly because the first section is dialogue followed by the trial transcript which is then followed by the investigation proper, but also because it's fun to read. You can dip into almost any page and a line will make you smile. The solution to the mystery is fairly easy to work out and would probably be solved even quicker today, with modern communications (this book was first published in 1993) but just kick back and enjoy the ride.
In conclusion, if you've read the others then this is of an equally high standard as those and if you haven't then you're very fortunate to now be able to read the books in the order they were written.
Read another review of THE MIND'S EYE.
Karen Meek, England