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Borkmann's Point: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery Hardcover – March 14, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the 10 years since the appearance of the first Henning Mankell novel in the U.S., Scandinavian crime writers have been arriving on these shores in steadily escalating numbers. The invasion continues with the U.S. debut of the internationally acclaimed Nesser. Like Mankell's Kurt Wallander, Nesser's Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is certainly world weary, the horrors of twenty-first-century crime weighing heavily on his twentieth-century shoulders, but there is also more than a little Maigret in the Stockholm sleuth. Both sides of his personality are on view here, as Van Veeteren is called away from vacation to help out in distant Kaalbringen, where an ax-wielding serial killer appears to be on the loose. Relying on intuition and charm, the inspector slowly ingratiates himself with the residents of the insular community and bumbles toward a solution, much in the manner of Commissaire Adamsberg, another Maigret descendant, in Fred Vargas' Paris-set Have Mercy on Us All (2005), also a late--arriving U.S. debut from a European mystery star. No reader of hard-boiled crime fiction should miss the Scandinavians, and Nesser immediately vaults to near-Mankell status. Let's hope Borkmann's Point, which won the Swedish Crime Writers' Best Novel Award for 1994, is only the first of a steady stream of Nesser imports. Bill Ott
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; Tra edition (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375421963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375421969
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on April 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is vacationing when his superior calls to ask him if he could assist the Kaalbringen police department in solving the murders of an ex-con and a wealthy real-estate mogul, both of whom have been murdered with an ax. Bored and restless, the methodical Van Veeteren readily agrees, happily applying his considerable wealth of knowledge and experience to tracking the killer down. To Van Veeteren, it is only a matter of time before the killer is caught--the Chief Inspector believes deep down that he will recognize the murderer once he encounters him. His confidence is misplaced, however, as the investigation drags on for several weeks without uncovering a single promising lead.

A well-respected author in Sweden, Nesser, whose books have been published in fifteen countries, is not well known in the United States; in fact, Borkmann's point (which is actually Nesser's second novel) is the first of his books to be published in America. This state of affairs should change quickly though, as Borkmann's Point should easily win him numerous fans. Although it has a fairly familiar plot, the book distinguishes itself through its terse but thorough studies of the parties involved in the investigation, from Van Veeteren, to his various colleagues on the police force, and to the killer himself. As revealed through alternating vignettes, their personalities and thought processes shine through, creating a feeling of intimacy between the reader and Nesser's cast, a feeling that will turn into a longing for more once the last page is turned.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on May 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
According to the trade statistics I have seen, the Swedish economy is almost completely driven by exports. In 2005 export trade accounted for almost 45% of Sweden's gross domestic product. Although I'd always thought this export trade was dominated by manufactured and primary goods I'm now coming to the (lighthearted) conclusion that the export of crime novels from Sweden must be one of its emerging export sectors. I've spent a good deal of time in recent months reading the Inspector Martin Beck series by the team of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (including "The Laughing Policeman" and "Roseanna") and the Inspector Kurt Wallander series by Henning Mankell (including "The Dogs of Riga" and "The Man Who Smiled"). Just when I thought I'd explored the entire body of Swedish crime fiction I came across Hakan Nesser's "Borkmann's Point" which is styled as "An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery" and felt compelled to see how it measured up to the other series. Although I enjoyed "Borkmann's Point" I found it somewhat less enticing then either the Beck or Wallander series.

"Borkmann's Point" is set in the coastal town of Kaalbringen. The protagonist, Inspector Van Veeteren, has been sent to help the (presumably) less-skilled local police in its investigation of two brutal axe murders. The victims appear to have no connection to each other. The story lines follow two parallel paths: Van Veeteren's investigation and his relationship with the local police force. Each story line is developed competently but neither the evidence-gathering nor the development of Van Veeteren's relationship with the locals really captured my imagination.

What I found most interesting in Borkmann's Point was the setting.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Discerning Reader on April 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Nesser is a fine storyteller with a well-sketched hero named DCI Van Veeteren. This is story of serial murder, and the method is quite brutal--a sweeping blow from an ax to the back of the neck. No one has any idea who, in the small Swedish city of Kaalbringen, would do such a thing or why.

Van Veeteren is a lonely bugger whose wife has died (or left him, I can't remember which). He broods when he's alone and seems quite introspective even in company, although he has a quirky and laid back sense of humor. He enjoys good music, as his car stereo (but not his car) is quite luxurious. Who doesn't like a detective who listens to Sibelius while on a major manhunt? A suspect who looks forward to a warm fire on a cold night, listening to a Heyman quintet?

When you read a lot of police procedurals, as I do, you always appreciate a little thoughtfulness from your detective, as Van Veeteren muses on the autumn of his life:

"...did there come a point, he started to wonder, beyond which we no longer look forward to something coming, but only to getting away from what has passed? Getting away. Closing down and moving on, but not looking forward to starting again. Like a journey whose delights decrease in direct proportion to the distance traveled from the starting point, whose sweetness becomes more and more bitter as the goal comes closer."

Kurt Wallander would hang out with Van Veeteren, and that's enough for me. Laurie Thompson is a veteran translator who skillfully got Wallender to us in beautiful English, and he is in mid-season form with this material. Give Hakan Nesser a try--I know I'll read the next book I can get my hands on!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Larry VINE VOICE on May 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In Kaalbringen, a quaint seaside town in Sweden, the population lives in fear. Two men have been killed by an ax murderer. One is an ex-con while the other is a wealthy businessman. The relentless detective Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is assigned to the case. The stakes get higher when another body is found. Can Van Veeteren and the local police solve the crimes before more lives are lost?

Hakan Nesser is a well known crime fiction writer in Europe. He has written a series of bestselling novels starring Inspector Van Veeteren. BORKMANN'S POINT is the first to be translated into English. The major strength of this work is the character of Van Veeteren. He is a likable detective, highly competent at what he does. The minor characters are also solid creations. This mystery is so character-driven that despite of the somewhat simple solution, the book as a whole works remarkably well. The setting of the seaside village is also described with great care. BORKMANN'S POINT won the best novel award for the Swedish Crime Writers' Academy in 1994. It is easy to see why.
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