The Inspector and Silence by Håkan Nesser

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An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery. Translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson. Originally published in 1997 as Kommissarien och tystnaden. First published in Great Britain 2010 by Mantle. This edition published 2011 by Pan Books. 434 pages. ISBN: 978-0-330-51250-3.

The Inspector and Silence is the fifth novel in a ten book mystery series featuring Inspector Van Veeteren by Swedish writer Håkan Nesser.

It’s mid-July and Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is looking forward to spending a two-week holiday in Crete, from the first of August onwards. During this time, he will decide whether to leave his position in the police force and start a new life in partnership with the owner of an antiquarian bookshop. But a call from the Sorbinowo police will change his plans. Acting Chief of Police Kluuge is a bit inexperienced, and he’s been instructed to turn to Van Veeteren if anything comes up.

Klugge is seriously concerned about a mysterious phone call. An anonymous woman  warning him about the disappearance of a little girl from the summer camp of a religious sect called Pure Life. Is she telling the truth? The camp, run by Oscar Yellineck together with three female assistants, has twelve girls attending. But they claim that nobody is missing. Later on, the dead body of a girl is found, but the investigation gets stuck when no one is willing to talk. And Van Veeteren has to rely on his intuition to solve the case.

This is the second Håkan Nesser book that I’ve read and I regret now for not reading the series in its chronological order. I very much enjoyed reading this book and I just love Van Veeteren’s character, his philosophy, his thoughts and his way of understanding life, particularly his sense of humour. A delicious reading indeed. A book to be savoured slowly as Van Veeteren savours a good meal or a good wine. 

‘Come in’, said Hiller.

            ‘I’m in already’, said Van Veeteren sitting down.


‘Hmm,’ agreed Van Veeteren. “Tell me about them. I can eat and listen at the same time, it’s a skill I’ve developed over the years.’

And in a style that reminded me of Garcia Marquez:

Half a dozen psychologists and behavioural scientists of various schools of thought pronounced sagely on this and that – as did a handful of criminologists, a bunch of sect members (not necessarily linked with the Pure Life), two bearded religious scientists, an ex-pyromaniac and a bishop on holiday.  

The Inspector and Silence has been reviewed by Maxine at Euro Crime, Lizzie Hayes at Euro Crime, Milo at Milo’s Rambles, Glenn at International Noir Fiction, Norman at Crime Scraps, Hersilia Press, Murder by Type 

Pan MacMillan 

Håkan Nesser fun site (Biography, bibliography and more)

El Inspector y el silencio de Håkan Nesser

El inspector y el silencio es la quinta novela de una serie de diez, protagonizadas por el Inspector Van Veeteren, por el escritor sueco Håkan Nesser.

Es mediados de julio y el inspector jefe Van Veeteren está esperando pasar unas vacaciones de dos semanas en Creta, del primero de agosto en adelante. Durante este tiempo, decidirá si deja su trabajo en la policía para comenzar una nueva vida asociándose con el dueño de una librería de libros antiguos. Sin embargo, una llamada de la policía Sorbinowo va a cambiar sus planes. El jefe accidental Kluuge es algo inexperto, y ha recibido instrucciones de llamar a Van Veeteren si surge algo.

Klugge está seriamente preocupado por una misteriosa llamada telefónica. Una mujer anónima le advirte de la desaparición de una niña del campamento de verano de una secta religiosa llamada Vida Pura. ¿Está diciendo la verdad? El campamento, dirigido por Oscar Yellineck junto con tres asistentes femeninas, cuenta con la asistencia doce niñas. Pero ellos dicen que no les falta nadie. Más tarde, el cadáver de una niña es  encontrado, pero la investigación se atasca cuando nadie está dispuesto a hablar. Y Van Veeteren tiene que confiar en su intuición para resolver el caso.

Este es el segundo libro de Håkan Nesser que he leído y ahora me arrepiento por no haber continuado leyendo toda la serie por orden cronológico. Disfruté mucho con la lectura este libro y me ha encantado el personaje de Van Veeteren, su filosofía, sus ideas y su forma de entender la vida, especialmente su sentido del humor. Una lectura deliciosa por cierto. Un libro para ser saboreado lentamente como Van Veeteren saborea una buena comida o un buen vino.

“Entre”, dijo Hiller.
“Ya estoy dentro”, dijo Van Veeteren sentándose.


“Hmm,” coincidió Van Veeteren. “Cuéntamelo. Puedo comer y escuchar al mismo tiempo, es una técnica que he desarrollado con los años. “

Y en un estilo que me hizo recordar a a García Márquez:

Media docena de psicólogos y científicos de la conducta de diferentes escuelas de pensamiento se pronunciaron con sabiduría sobre esto y aquello – al igual que un puñado de criminólogos, un grupo de miembros de diferentes sectas (no necesariamente vinculadas con Vida Pura), dos científicos religiosos barbudos, un ex-pirómano y un obispo de vacaciones.

10 thoughts on “The Inspector and Silence by Håkan Nesser”

  1. José Ignacio – Thanks for the excellent review. I like Nesser’s writing style very much, too, and I see what you mean by its resemblance in some ways to that of García Márquez. I hadn’t thought about that before, but I do see your point. What I like about this series (besides the things you mention) is that it has a clever sense of humour. I like the wit in the stories even though it is not always obvious.

  2. Glad you liked this, Jose Ignacio. I read the first 4 out of order as that’s how they were published in translation, but they are now being issued in English in order, thankfully. I love the sense of humour too, though sometimes the crime elements are a bit weak, relying on people forgetting something. But I do like them.

  3. Jose Ignacio: I have walked by Nesser’s books many times in bookstores. I am going to have to stop next time and see if I can find the original book in the series.

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