Borkmann's Point, by Hakan Nesser

by Peter

International bestselling author Hakan Nesser made his U.S. debut with this excellent whodunit. Borkman’s Point won the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Prize for Best Novel in 1994.

Nesser’s protagonist, in Borkman’s Point as in other books, is Inspector Van Veeteren. He is a crusty, world weary police officer. The horrors of twenty-first-century crime weighs Borkmann's Point, by Hakan Nesserheavily on his shoulders, and he is at times quite grumpy, but with a great sense of humor and even, sometimes, a little charm. Like Inspector Kurt Wallander in the books by Henning Mankell , Van Veeteren listens to classical music and works methodically to solve crimes. He also plays chess, has been recently divorced, has the vice of smoking and loves fine wines. There is also more than a little Maigret in the Stockholm sleuth.

In Borkmann’s Point, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is vacationing when his superior calls to ask him if he is willing to assist the Kaalbringen police department in solving the murders of an ex-con and a wealthy real-estate mogul, both of whom have been murdered with an ax. The victims appear to have no connection to one another.

Bored and restless, Van Veeteren agrees, happy to be able to apply his knowledge and experience to tracking the killer down. To Van Veeteren, like always, it is only a matter of time before the killer is caught. He believes deep down that he will recognize the murderer once he encounters him. However, in this case his confidence seems to be misplaced, as he is more and more forced to admit to himself as the investigation drags on for several weeks without uncovering a single promising lead.

When the killer claims a third victim and the town’s best police investigator disappears without a trace, Van Veeteren, who has left only one case unsolved in his long career, intensifies his hunt. The inspector believes that in every case a point is reached where enough information has been gathered to solve the crime with “nothing more than some decent thinking.” But can he gather sufficient information?

Borkmann’s Point is a well-written, thoughtful crime fiction novel. Borkmann’s Point is on the process of police work, the art and arduousness of investigation and detection. The book has been well received, especially in Europe. It’s a great read, and provides a good introduction to Hakan Nesser and Inspector Van Veeteren. Recommended!

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