Although this is the first of his books that I have read, Hakan Nesser is another award-winning crime writer who has helped secure the current supremacy of the Scandanavians in the genre. I have to say that The Return is a good read and I fairly raced through its 320 pages. This is testament to the excellent quality of the writing and (let’s give credit where credit’s due) the translation.
Where I was left a little disappointed was in the plotting, which I found a little lame. Nesser’s detective, Inspector Van Veeteren, is left to solve a murder from his hospital bed, whilst his tireless colleagues do the donkey work without making very much progress to speak of. I found myself frustrated on two counts. Firstly, Van Veeteren seems to solve the case with very little effort. The investigation appears to have come to a dead end when he suddenly declares that he knows who the murderer is and then refuses to tell anybody. Secondly, the solution to the murder turns out to be disappointingly straightforward, all the more so because of the intriguing scenario established in the opening pages of the novel. In other words, the pay-off doesn’t live up to what has been set up. In fact, about half-way through the novel, I was convinced that I had worked out what was going on. It turned out that I was completely wrong because my imagined solution was far more devious than what turned out to be the case! So I was left with a rather ambivalent feeling about this book. Some great writing, but with a less satisfying narrative.