An ex-con is brutally murdered with an ax in Kaalbringen. Then the body of a wealthy real estate mogul is found, also the victim of a violent attack. There appears to be a serial killer on the loose, and Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is called in to help the local police. In his storied career he has only left one case unsolved, but he's never before faced an ax murderer. As details surrounding the grisly murders are collected, Van Veeteren finds that there is almost nothing to go on; nothing links the two victims. But then there's another murder, and shortly thereafter one of Van Veeteren's colleagues, a promising female detective, goes missing--perhaps because the criminal knows she has come too close to the truth. . . .
In this riveting novel, full of fascinating, quirky characters and deep motives, H?kan Nesser introduces American readers to a detective who is already beloved by his European readership, as he spins a story that leaves even the most veteran crime-novel readers chilled.
International bestseller Nesser makes his U.S. debut with this classy and rewarding whodunit, which won the Swedish Crime Writers' Academy Prize for Best Novel in 1994. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, a veteran of 30 years of police work who appreciates fine food and drink, reluctantly cuts short his vacation to help the police chief of the remote town of Kaalbringen and his small crew investigate two ax murders. When the killer claims a third victim and the town's best police investigator disappears without a trace, Van Veeteren, who has left only one case unsolved in his long career, intensifies his hunt. The contemplative inspector believes that in every case a point is reached where enough information has been gathered to solve the crime with "nothing more than some decent thinking." The trick is knowing when that point is reached. Thompson's smooth translation makes this worthy mystery readily accessible to American readers. (Mar.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 12, 2007
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Excerpt from Borkmann's Point by Hakan Nesser
Had Ernst Simmel known he was to be the Axman's second victim, he would no doubt have downed a few more drinks at The Blue Ship.
As it was, he settled for a brandy with his coffee and a whiskey on the rocks in the bar, while trying unsuccessfully to make eye contact with the bleached-blond woman in the far corner; but anyway, his heart wasn't in it. Presumably, she was one of the new employees at the canning factory. He had never seen her before, and he had a fair idea about the available talent.
To his right was Herman Schalke, a reporter on de Journaal, trying to interest him in a cheap weekend trip to Kaliningrad or somewhere of the sort, and when they eventually got round to pinning down his last evening, it seemed probable that Schalke must have been the last person in this life to speak to Simmel.
Always assuming that the Axman didn't have some message to impart before finishing him off, that is. Which wasn't all that likely since the blow, as in the previous case, had come diagonally from behind and from slightly below, so a little chat seemed improbable.
"Ah, well!" Simmel had said after draining the last drops from his glass. "I'd better be getting back to the old lady."
If Schalke remembered rightly, that is. In any case, he'd tried to talk him out of it. Pointed out that it was barely eleven and the night was yet young. But Simmel had been adamant.
That was the right word. Adamant. Just eased himself off his bar stool. Adjusted his glasses and stroked that pathetic wisp of hair over his bald head like he always did--as if that would fool anybody--muttered a few words, then left. The last Schalke had seen of him was the white outline of his back as he paused in the doorway and seemed to be hesitating about which direction to take.
Looking back, that was distinctly odd. For Christ's sake, surely Simmel knew his way home?
But maybe he just stood there for a few seconds to fill his lungs with the fresh night air. It had been a hot day; summer was not over yet and the evenings had started to exude a mellowness enriched by many months of summer sun. Enriched and refined.
As if made for drinking in deep draughts, somebody had said. These nights.
In fact, it wasn't a bad night for a journey to the other side, if one might be allowed such a thought. Schalke's section of de Journaal was mainly concerned with matters sporting and a dash of folklore, but in his capacity as the last person to have seen Simmel alive, he had presumed to write an obituary of the property developer who had been so suddenly plucked from our midst . . . a pillar of our society, one might say, who had just returned to his native town after a sojourn of several years abroad (on the Costa del Sol along with other like-minded citizens with a bent for effective tax planning, but perhaps this was not the occasion to refer to that), survived by a wife and two grown-up children, having reached the age of fifty but still in the prime of his life, no doubt about that.
The scent of evening seemed full of promise; he paused in the doorway, hesitating.
Would it be a good idea to take a stroll over to Fisherman's Square and down by the harbor?
What was the point of going home as early as this? The sweetish smell of the bedroom and Grete's overweight body shot through his mind, and he decided to take a little walk. Only a short one. Even if there was nothing to pick up, the warm night air would make it worth the effort.
He crossed over Langvej and turned off toward Bungeskirke. At the same time, the murderer emerged from the shadows under the lime trees in Leisner Park and started following him. Quietly and carefully, a safe distance behind, not a sound from his rubber soles. Tonight was his third attempt, but even so, there was no trace of impatience. He knew what he had to do, and the last thing on his mind was to rush things.