Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser

Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson

Pantheon Books

1993 Swedish Crime Writer’s Academy Prize for new authors

Originally published as Det grovmaskiga nätet

Source: library


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.

See other positive reviews:  Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, Euro Crime (Karen), Euro Crime (Maxine), and Reactions to Reading.

8 thoughts on “Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser

  1. Rebecca – I am so glad you liked this novel. I agree that Eva Ringmar goes through an awful lot but like you, I felt that the other elements of the novel more than outweigh that. And one of my favourite scenes in crime fiction occurs in this novel, but I don’t want to give away more of the story than you did. Let’s just say I like the humour woven through this novel; I really do. I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the novels in this series.

    • Margot, I didn’t talk much about the humor, but I did appreciate it. It definitely makes the book a bit easier to take! I am looking forward to reading more in this series, but I’m feeling the need to read some books with female protagonists now.

      • Rebecca – I know exactly what you mean. I’m hoping you’ll enjoy the rest of the Van Veeteren series when you get back to it :-).

  2. Thanks for this one, Rebecca. I definitely want to read it. I have become more and more interested in the whole question of the depiction of policemen in mystery novels. I never thought “police procedurals” would hold much for me, but I was wrong. Will be writing more about this. Also thanks for including the other positive reviews — good, generous idea.

    • I’ll admit that I watch more police procedurals than I read, but when I do read them I’m a big fan. I’m looking forward to reading your posts about police procedurals in the future, Dorothy.

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