The Return: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery
by Håkan Nesser
Translation Published June 2007 by Vintage (First Published 1995)
Translated by Laurie Thompson
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Håkan Nesser’s The Return began with great promise but quickly fizzled. I was immediately hooked with the first line, “It was the first day and the last day” (pg. 3). With this line the reader immediately knows that nothing good is about to happen, but whose impending demise should the reader expect? Did the newly released prisoner really meet his demise or will he upon his return go back to his criminal ways?
The novel continues to pick up steam in Chapter 2 with some rather bad and rambunctious children out on a field trip. Kids that I, myself, would think about stringing up from the nearest tree by their toenails and washing their mouths out with soap. However, after that the novel takes a nose dive.
I can honestly say nothing happens in The Return. There are a lot of interviews that go nowhere. Inspector Van Veeteren is much more cantankerous or rather belligerent than in Mind’s Eye or Borkmann’s Point, which becomes quite annoying and made me start not to like him. I tried to reason that it was is due to his illness.
Unlike Mind’s Eye and Borkmann’s Point, I didn’t have a clue as to who done it and that could be because I officially checked out about halfway through. I didn’t care to read another half-baked interview, status update in which there was nothing to update, theory that Verhaven was innocent of his crimes, anything about Van Veeteren’s health, beer drinking, or beard’s that made one look suspicious.
Nesser has a couple of time jumps, which if you don’t take a quick note of at the beginning of each part will definitely confuse you. He introduces a lot of characters that end up being nothing more flat characters and don’t drive the plot forward.
I hope that Woman with Birthmark and The Inspector and Silence redeem the Van Veeteren series, especially since I’ve already purchased them.