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by Hakan Nesser and Laurie Thompson (translator)
Pantheon, June 2008
288 pages
ISBN: 0375425039

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Janek Mitter wakes up with a killer hangover. When he attempts to get into the bathroom, he finds the door locked from the inside. Eventually he takes the door off the hinges and discovers the murdered body of his wife, Eva. They had been married a very short time so the police feel that Janek became jealous of something in her past and killed her. Janek claims that he had too much to drink and passed out. He does not know what his wife did after dinner but he knows he did not murder her. With no other apparent suspects, the police arrest him and he is convicted. Janek is locked away in a mental hospital to serve his time.

Chief Inspector Van Veeteren finds Janek‛s protests disturbing. Janek is very calm as he proclaims his innocence and seems lucid rather than insane. Van Veeteren is not sure that Janek‛s story is as far-fetched as he originally believed. When Janek is discovered murdered, Van Veeteren learns that his doubts were well-founded. Even though the evidence from the investigation into Eva Mitter‛s death indicates Janek‛s guilt, Van Veeteren must reexamine everything. Only by discovering Eva‛s killer, will he be able to reveal who murdered Janek. Unknown to Van Veeteren, Janek left behind a clue, if only the Chief Inspector can find it before the killer strikes again or the killer escapes from justice.

I found the beginning of MIND‛S EYE moved slowly. The first third of the book supplies details about Janek Mitter‛s arrest and his memories of the murder. But there is little action or comprehensive detail. The publisher‛s description emphasizes the investigation that occurs after Janek‛s arrest and murder, not in the actions leading up to his arrest, so the reader may wonder why so much space is given to these prior events. As I had read other books in the series, I plowed through the first third since I knew Van Veeteren‛s investigation would be interesting. If someone starts the series with this book, they might be very disappointed or not follow the story through until the end.

Van Veeteren is a compelling character who evaluates everything atmosphere, mood, clues, evidence, people etc in his investigations. He also values good food and other pleasures in both his own life and the lives of those involved in the criminal investigations. This appreciation of the larger world makes Van Veeteren a good detective and an interesting protagonist.

MIND‛S EYE is the first book in the Chief Inspector Van Veeteren series but is the third mystery by Nesser released in the United States. Hakan Nesser is able to write a compelling book that draws the reader in. I hope the other books of the Chief Inspector Van Veeteren series will also be published in the United States.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, August 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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