Münster’s Case, by Håkan Nesser

by Peter

Münster's Case, Hakan Nesser
Münster’s Case (aka The Unlucky Lottery) is the sixth book in Swedish crime fiction writer Håkan Nesser’s excellent series about the grumpy, eccentric and brilliant Chief Inspector Van Veeteren. In this very intelligent mystery, Nesser has chosen to sideline Van Veeteren a little.

The book-loving and somewhat philosophical Chief Inspector is on sabbatical, and works in a second hand book store. Van Veeteren still views himself as a detective who can solve any case assigned him – as possibly the greatest detective ever. But he feels that he has seen too much evil and brutality – he simple cannot face it every day of his life anymore.
So when Waldemar Leverkuhn is stabbed to death, the case is assigned instead to his patient and persistent, but not quite as smart assistant, Inspector Münster. This is why in the US the book is entiteled Münster’s Case.

The Unlucky Lottery, Hakan Nesser
The backdrop for the murder is that four elderly friends have won a fairly large sum of money in the Dutch lottery (thus the UK title The Lucky Lottery), and gone out to celebrate their luck with a little something to eat and a lot to drink. Then, just a few hours later, at 2 am, one of them – Waldemar Leverkuhn – is found in his home, brutally murdered. He has been stabbed to death; actually he has been stabbed 28 times. Soon another of the lucky winners disappears too.

The investigators think perhaps one of the two survivors has decided to kill two of the other winners in other to increase the size of each share of the winning pot. But they fail to make any noticeable progress in the case. And even though this is Münster’s case and his chance to prove himself, he realizes that he has to go and ask Van Veeteren for help.

Van Veeteren listens to the story, and promises to ponder it. Which he does. And as often is the case, he sees something that has been overlooked – an element that may point in an entirely different direction. And soon Münster finds himself digging deeper and deeper into the personal history of Waldemar Leverkuhn, where he discovers dark secrets that complicate the case and endanger his very life.

Håkan Nesser is a wonderful writer, and while Münster’s Case (aka The Unlucky Lottery) is perhaps not the best book in the outstanding and very special series about the intriguing and elusive Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, it is still a great and very entertaining crime fiction novel. The plot is very good, smart and with some very nice twists and turns. But most of all, it is the fabulous storytelling and the understated humor that makes this book stand out from the crowd. This simply is great crime fiction.

Other reviews of Münster’s Case (The Unlucky Lottery):

‘an intriguing plot that keeps twisting right to the very end…The Unlucky Lottery sees Nesser paint a colourful picture of police life and a gripping story of revenge served very cold indeed’ –Edinburgh Evening News

‘Nesser is one of the best of the Nordic Noir writers, unafraid of moral ambiguity and excellent at building a brooding atmosphere’
–The Guardian

`Nesser’s typically quirky The Unlucky Lottery demonstrated that the author’s idiosyncratic skills were still firmly in place.’
–The Independent

See also the reviews at Eurocrime and Dancing with Skeletons.

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