Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson
1993 Swedish Crime Writer’s Academy Prize for new authors
Originally published as Det grovmaskiga nätet
Mind’s Eye introduces Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, a detective in the fictional city of Maarsdam in an unnamed European country. He’s an older detective dreaming of retirement, the parent of adult children, one of whom is in prison, and separated from his wife. This novel focuses on the murder of Eva Ringmar, a woman found drowned in her bathtub by her new husband, Janek Mitter, a high school teacher. He suffers from amnesia, which complicates the investigation. More murders take place in the course of this book, but they all revolve around who Eva was, a mystery that’s not uncovered until the end of the novel.
The pacing of the police procedural is good: it’s quite a good set-up to begin with a murder, an accused suffering from amnesia, and his trial all in the opening section of the book. Van Veeteren is the dogged type of inspector who generally is good at sensing who the murderer is 95% of the time, but one case out of 20 plagues him, and that is the case of Eva Ringmar. The investigation, of course, involves lots of interviews, which slows the pace a bit, but that’s to be expected.
The biggest draw for me was the set up of the relationships among Van Veeteren and the detectives working with him for a brief period of time. They aren’t faceless characters, especially Münster. The actual mystery was not my favorite part of the book, but that isn’t usually the case for me. I did feel a bit uneasy about how much woe befell the main murder victim, Eva Ringmar. Nevertheless, I look forward to reading the rest of this series.