The Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser


th_scandinaviamap-1 TheMindsEye_cover The Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser. Translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson. First published in Sweden 1993 as Det grovmaskiga nätet. Pan Books (Paperback edition) 2009. 312 p. ISBN: 978-0-330-49278-2.

The Mind’s Eye is the first book in Håkan Nesser’s Van Veeteren series although it was the third one published in English. It was released in Spain as La tosca red by RBA in 2006 but it is presently out of print.

Set in Maardam, a fictitious town, located in an unnamed country in Northern Europe, the action takes place between October 5 and December 5. The names of characters and places are taken from different European languages.

A high-school teacher, Janek Mitter, wakes up one morning unable to remember his name. After a night of heavy drinking he has a terrible hangover. He finds the bathroom door locked and opens it with a screwdriver. A woman is lying in the bathtub but he can identify her. Her name was Eva Ringmar and she was his wife of three months. He telephones the police and then cleans up the apartment.

During the trial Mitter cannot remember what happened that night although he is pretty sure that he has not killed his wife and his behaviour, after calling the police, doesn’t help him either. He is found guilty and is confined to a mental asylum.

When a second murder occurs, clearly connected to this one, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is in charge of the investigation. Van Veeteren becomes convinced that something or someone in Eva’s life has caused this double murder and as he delves further a tragic story begins to unfold.

The abundant dialogues make this book easy to read and Nesser’s very peculiar sense of humour makes it also a very enjoyable reading. It was great fun and I found myself laughing occasionally while reading this book. It is an excellent and very entertaining police procedural. One of this books that captures your attention from the very beginning. A top read. I look forward to the rest of the series.

Håkan Nesser was born in 1950 in Sweden. In 1993 he was awarded the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Prize for new authors for The Mind’s Eye, and is the only author to have won the Academy’s best novel award three times: in 1994 for Borkmann’s Point; in 1996 for Woman with Birthmark; and in 2007 for A Rather Different Story. In 1999 he was awarded the Scandinavian Crime Society’s Glass Key Award for the best crime novel of the year for Carambole. With his 2006 crime novel Människa utan hund (Human without Dog) Nesser introduced a new main character, Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti, a Swedish police inspector of Italian descent. Barbarotti books are set in Sweden, although in a fictitious town, Kymlinge, named after an “abandoned tube station” in Stockholm.

2010 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Book # 3

Maxine’s review at Euro Crime

Karen’s review at Euro Crime

Glenn’s review at International Noir Fiction

Uriah’s review at Crime Scraps

Håkan Nesser The Mind’s Eye

Håkan Nesser and Van Veeteren

Håkan Nesser at Wikipedia

Scandinavian Crime Fiction

Pan Macmillan

Random House

Detectives Literarios (In Spanish)

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17 thoughts on “The Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser

  1. >Lovely post, Jose Ignacio, I very much enjoyed reading it and it reminded me of how much I enjoy Nesser's "peculiar humour" as you so aptly put it. I don't know how he does it, but he makes you laugh at quiet sad or brutal things – eg the byplay at the trial near the start was so funny.I owe you an apology _ I have been writing "Jose" all this time when I should have been writing "Jose Ignacio". I am so sorry for my rudeness.Thanks again for a lovely post with so many useful links.

  2. >You are very gracious, Jose Ignacio, thank you. I would like to know which you prefer! I would be happy to type the longer or the shorter, though you may get more typos in the longer 😉

  3. >Oh this sounds wonderful. I actually have this book on my TBR shelves somewhere and you have convinced me to retrieve it for the Scandinavian reading challenge. I particularly love books where there is a peculiar sense of humour.

  4. >A fine review. Van Veeteren is a great favourite of mine; he is so quiet but highly intelligent. It is true that Maardam is fictional, but the setting seems very Dutch to me, and in one of the novels they pay each other in guilders 😀

  5. >Thanks for the links, Jose Ignacio. This is a superb series, I have read all the four Van Veeterens translated in English, and I think they get better as they go along. Hakan Nesser has the sort of dry sense of humour that lends itself perfectly to writing crime fiction and charming audiences at conferences such as last year's Crime Fest.

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