Borkmann’s Point by Håkan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson
Originally published as Borkmanns punkt, 2004 in Swedish
Finalist 2006 International Dagger
Inspector Van Veeteren series book 2
It’s been a few months since I read the first Van Veeteren book, Mind’s Eye, but I can say that this book feels very different than the first book in the series. Borkmann’s Point begins with Inspector Van Veeteren being yanked away from his vacation with his adult son to investigate two killings by someone the press dubbed the Axman. It’s a graphic beginning to the story. While the subject matter is gruesome, Nesser balances out the severity of the crimes with a lot of discussion of Van Veeteren and his team’s investigative process. As a matter of fact, the title of the story refers to the point in a criminal investigation where the police have amassed enough facts to solve the crime without being distracted by too many facts. It’s an interesting proposition, and one that applies to my experience reading the book.
Van Veeteren is a cerebral, intuitive investigator, as is his younger colleague Münster and Beate Moerk, a younger detective with the local police department heading the investigation. It’s entertaining to see how their minds work. My favorite line about the investigation is, “Justice has a certain preference for cops who lounge around and think, instead of working their butts off.” It reflects the feel of the story: yes, Van Veeteren is trying to solve this case in a short window of time before the retirement of the chief of the police department heading the investigation, but the pace of the work is not rushed. Van Veeteren has plenty of time to play chess against Bausen and take discomforting walks along the coast.
What else can I say about this book? It’s a moody setting– the lonesome coastline in an unnamed Scandinavian country. Otherwise I’m stuck writing about this book because what’s most interesting for me about the book is talking about the identity of the killer and the killer’s motive and how I feel about it as a reader. I’ll restrict that discussion to the comments.
My review of the first book in the series, Mind’s Eye, appears here.