cover image The Return

The Return

Hakan Nesser. Pantheon Books, $22.95 (321pp) ISBN 978-0-375-42197-6

Nesser's latest contemporary police procedural, set in his Swedish homeland, is an excellent puzzler that will remind many of the Inspector Morse series. Nesser's sleuth, Detective Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, is on the eve of major surgery when a baffling murder case is dumped on his team; a mutilated corpse has been found in a ditch, and is eventually identified as that of Leopold Verhaven, a recently released double murderer. Verhaven's crimes were odd ones-vicious attacks on women decades apart-and his own killing raises the spectre that he was not guilty of them. Van Veeteren and his squad deftly delve through decades of faded eyewitness recollections before reaching a satisfying solution, albeit one that requires the inspector to cross a line to achieve justice. The sardonic Van Veeteren is an enteratining lead character, and this book should lead many to seek out earlier entries in the series.