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Woman with Birthmark by Håkan Nesser

Woman with Birthmark (1996)

by Håkan Nesser

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Inspector Van Veeteren (4)

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English (15)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
It's been over two years since I've read Nesser, and getting back to the Van Veeteren series was a delight. I know it sounds a bit off to call a book with multiple murders a delight, but I'll try to explain. Parts of the story felt very familiar: first there's an unhappy, lonely detective in an imaginary Scandinavian city, a team of police working a seemingly impossible set of cases, and a strong social conscience, but the story gelled for me and is one of my favorite reads of the year.

Van Veeteren and his team investigate a series of murders of men killed the same way (shot in the chest and the groin), and the first half of the book is the search to find the link between the victims. The second half of the book is the chase, and it's a truly sad ending for the victims and the perpetrator. I'm usually not fond of books with sections in the mind of the killer, but I didn't mind it in this story. Nesser has such sympathy for the killer and the killer's life that led her to her crimes: it was a very well-done story.

There's a bit of an odd passage in the book that sounds a bit like the fact that I feel a bit ambivalent about enjoying this book about horrible crimes: Beck at one point muses that he could have been a criminal because he enjoys hunting the killer as much as the killer must enjoy hunting his/her prey. As he gets closer to catching the killer, he is usually horrified by their motives and wonders what kind of society he lives in that breeds such criminals. While I liked the book for the chasing-down-the-murderer plot, I was also impressed with how sympathetic Nesser made the killer. It was a tragic story.

I bought my copy of the book, and I have the next three books on my shelves. I'm very much looking forward to them.
  rkreish | Jul 24, 2015 |
This is the third book by Nesser that I've read and rather different from the rest. Most Nesser mysteries are classic page-turning whodunnits. In Woman with Birthmark, the identity of the perpetrator is known from the outset. The motive is made clear about halfway through the book, and isn't especially difficult to guess before then. The overall feel of it is like a Greek tragedy: a series of events leading to a knot of a situation that is basically not salvageable. Grim, sad, and my favourite of the Nesser mysteries that I've read. ( )
  Erratic_Charmer | Mar 11, 2014 |
Wonderful police procedural. I wouldn't say a mystery as the crimes and their motivation is in full view of the reader basically from the beginning. It is a mystery to the police which they slowly triangulate on as one dead body after another shows up. A crime of 30 years ago must be revenged and the question is whether the police will find the killer before the last person is killed. I enjoyed it as I really enjoy the characters and their deadpan sensibilities. They seem very normal or likely to me in their quirkiness. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
I loved this book! The author is not as descriptive as Larsson or Nesbo, and therefore the book is not as long; but he keeps the story moving at a fast clip, and the characters are highly entertaining. This is a very unusual plot that I won't spoil, but it's definitely an unexpected ending. Now I want to read his other books! ( )
  MsGumby | Apr 27, 2013 |
A woman,upon the death of her mother, makes a decision that it's time for some people to pay. What wrong was done to her and her mother is not made known at the beginning, but as the killings start to take place, the motive begins to emerge.

Inspector Van Veeteren, battling a cold, and a team flummoxed by an almost total absence of clues as to the identity of the killer and the motive for the killings, helplessly stand by the sidelines, hoping this is not the work of a serial killer. Gradually though, connections between the victims start to emerge and as the race to find the killer heats up, will Veeteren's team find the killer in time before she kills again, or will they be too late?

Blackmail, murder and a clever killer make for great ingredients in this police procedural. I thought it read a little slow at times, but there's no denying the building tension in the book. ( )
  cameling | Oct 30, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Håkan Nesserprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Luijten, ClementineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Sedan finns det förstås en viss sorts handlingar, som vi aldrig kan lämna bakom oss, eller köpa oss fria ifrån. Kanske inte ens be om förlåtelse för. W. Klimke, terapeut
Till Sanna och Johannes
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Hon frös.
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Detective Van Veeteren and his associates are left bewildered by the curious murder of a man shot twice in the heart and twice below the belt. Revenge seems to be the motive, in this chilling novel filled with deception, blackmail, and murder.

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