Nesser, Hakan - 'The Return' (translated by Laurie Thompson)
THE RETURN is the follow-up to the 2006 CWA Duncan Lawrie International Dagger nominee BORKMANN'S POINT, featuring Inspector Van Veeteren. Van Veeteren is back on home territory this time, though the author has created a northern European setting of his own, drawing on the languages of many countries for place and person names.
In the style of Josephine Tey's THE DAUGHTER OF TIME and more recently Colin Dexter's THE WENCH IS DEAD, Van Veeteren does most of his sleuthing from his hospital bed after an operation to remove part of his intestines.
The mystery to be solved is who killed double murderer Leopold Verhaven? Verhaven had served two separate stretches of twelve years for the murder of two young women before his decapitated body was found by school children on a day trip to the outdoors. Reading through all the trial transcripts and press cuttings Van Veeteren concludes that the evidence against Verhaven was mostly circumstantial. Could it be that he was innocent and the real killer has struck again?
As well as being re-acquainted with his sidekick Munster, who was also in BORKMANN'S POINT, we get to meet more of Van Veeteren's team including, my favourite, the sweet toothed Rooth.
Though this one wasn't shortlisted for the 2007 Dagger I preferred it to BORKMANN'S POINT. I found the whodunit angle much stronger and I like the fact that it's more of an ensemble piece with more detectives - that will, hopefully, appear in future books. Though of course it's the gruff, Van Veeteren who orchestrates the investigation from his bed, has the critical breakthrough and indeed determines the final outcome. I also enjoy the deadpan humour that continues to be present:
"It's about a missing person. May I come in?"
"Not without a warrant," said the woman.
"Thank you," said Munster.
I very much look forward to reading the next in the series.
Karen Meek, England