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Woman with Birthmark: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery

Woman with Birthmark: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery

Written by Håkan Nesser

Narrated by Simon Vance


Woman with Birthmark: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery

Written by Håkan Nesser

Narrated by Simon Vance

ratings:
4/5 (17 ratings)
Length:
7 hours
Released:
Jun 14, 2011
ISBN:
9781611742787
Format:
Audiobook

Description

After hearing her mother's deathbed confession and following the dreary funeral, Maria Adler realizes she has no other option but to seize upon her mother's imperative to do something. Dissolving the life she loathes, Maria changes her appearance and disappears. When she emerges, revenge is her sole occupation.

Inspector 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. He was a quiet, utterly dull man, and the only suspicious activity his surviving wife can recall is a series of peculiar phone calls. Repeatedly the telephone would ring, offering nothing but the words of an obscure pop song from the 1960s. This siren song is linked to an identical murder, but the true link between these heinous crimes remains unknown, while a daughter's pride grows with the satisfaction of vengeance and another detective's lover offers telling insights that only an outsider could deduce.

With the critical eye and cool observation necessary for a successful chess match, Van Veeteren pursues his subject across the country, wading through outrageous leads and fruitless tips to a chilling conclusion.
Released:
Jun 14, 2011
ISBN:
9781611742787
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Håkan Nesser is one of Sweden’s most popular crime writers, receiving numerous awards for his novels featuring Inspector Van Veeteren, including the European Crime Fiction Star Award (Ripper Award) 2010/11, the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Prize (three times) and Scandinavia's Glass Key Award. The Van Veeteren series is published in over twenty-five countries and has sold over ten million copies worldwide. Håkan Nesser lives in Gotland with his wife and spends part of each year in the UK. In addition to the popular Van Veeteren series, his other books include the psychological thriller The Living and the Dead in Winsford and The Barbarotti series.


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Reviews

What people think about Woman with Birthmark

4.0
17 ratings / 15 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    Another fine Scandinavian police procedural (no children were harmed in the course of this plot). Some mysteries start with nothing but the discovery of the crime, and dare the reader to solve the puzzle before the detectives; others let the reader ahead of the police, and the charm is seeing how the police work the puzzle out. This is one of the latter. The criminal is known immediately to the reader, even before the crime. The root cause is fairly easy to guess. But the police must start from the beginning, and watching them work it out is like cheering for the home team.Inspector Van Veeteren is a classic: disillusioned, depressed in the long dark winters, alone yet surrounded by interesting and sometimes funny police characters, each with their special talents/drawbacks.This is not the first in the series, although the first I've come across. I'll be looking for the first, and more if there are any. Quite enjoyable.
  • (3/5)
    A typical Scandinavian mystery - which is not a bad thing. But the setting of a fictional town with characteristics of German, Dutch, Slavic, and other places and languages, was sometimes annoying to me, and took away some of my reading pleasure. (I'm never happy to see my mother tongue maltreated and twisted, not even in this fictional place.)
  • (4/5)
    Inspector Van Veeteren reappears, this time in pursuit of what seems to be a serial killer whose motive is a mystery. The reader is a little bit ahead, because we have already been introduced to a woman (unnamed) who has made a promise (unspecified) to her dying mother. The working out of the story, operating from the viewpoint of the killer and of her pursuers, is elegant and absorbing. As in the other Van Veeteren stories, the character of the detective himself is most attractive, in a rumpled way, and the undertone of humor is very welcome. But we still don't know where we are -----
  • (2/5)
    I have enjoyed this series very much, but this book was a disappointment. It was way too predictable and there was no real mystery to it at all. I felt that we were told the whole story in the first few chapters.
  • (4/5)
    Hakan Nesser is another one of my all-time favorite writers of Scandinavian crime fiction. Woman With Birthmark is #4 in this series featuring Inspector Van Veeteren, a veteran detective in Maardam, whose location remains a mystery in itself. These books you can read as stand-alone novels, but there's always a plus to reading a series in order. A solitary mourner at a funeral is at the heart of a baffling series of crimes. A young woman made a death-bed promise to her mother and has cleared the way to begin her plan of revenge. Her first victim is a businessman who has recently been receiving some very odd phone calls. There is no voice, just a song that plays over and over again. Shortly after a little fender-bender, his wife goes out one night leaving him home alone, and comes back to find him shot to death. Enter the police and Inspector Van Veeteren, who after their investigation, come up with very little to make a case, never mind an arrest. When another murder occurs in the same fashion, the members of the Inspector's team know that they must find some sort of a connection between the two dead men. Not only are they worried about a possible serial killer, but the press doesn't understand why the police are not doing their job and makes no bones about publishing how they feel. But the two victims lived very different lives, so the team has to begin the tedious and difficult task of linking each victim's pasts together, not only to identify the killer and the why, but to possibly warn anyone else connected with these two men. It's not a mystery, per se; the reader knows the who (sort of) from the very start. What drives the killer is what slowly unravels throughout the story, teased out a little at a time. As in all of his Van Veeteren books, Nesser's writing, his plotting genius and his characterizations all speak for themselves in this story. He doesn't pad the writing with a lot of great detail and gets right to the crime and the search for a solution. Van Veeteren doesn't seem to suffer from the angst that many other Scandinavian detectives are full of and he has this very dry wit and sarcastic sense of humor. I've seen this book reviewed as being too slow with little punch, but trust me -- this is far from the case. If you want bang-bang shoot 'em up, look elsewhere. This one is much more subdued and cerebral.I have followed this author's works in order of translation and have NEVER been disappointed. I can definitely recommend this book to readers of Scandinavian crime fiction, and for those who want quality and intelligence in their crime.
  • (4/5)
    This is the perfect rainy day read. It is the classic style of detective novel with an ensemble of unique characters and a intriguing mystery to solve. A sharp pace and many surprises keep it moving and it feels like a much faster read than you'd expect. As classic the style is, there was still a few "oh no you didn't!" spots where I was genuinely surprised at a turn of events.There are some personal details that make Inspector Van Veeteren anything but ordinary: his escape with the scented candle, bathtub, and beer for one. The clever wit is required, of course. But what makes the pace work so well is that there isn't too many personal details...the story is the focus rather than character studies. Some might be disappointed in that, but nobody comes off as vague. They simply are part of a greater whole which is the search for a serial killer. After reading more of this series, one would no doubt pick up on more character details of the other policeman.This novel is also lean in content (in a good way) and action based. If characters go to dinner, you don't have to plod through pages of details about what they ate or how the fish tasted. It is far too snappy to waste time on that, rather, you are allowed to follow the steps of the investigation (kind of like the old Homicide: Life on the Street series) as it twists through the partner's heckling and the gripes of the underlings.I suggest reading this in as close to one sitting as you can, and on a good cold day if you want to really get into it. The Scandinavian landscape makes you shiver as you read, and it's not just the crime. I appreciated that this novel wasn't overtly gory or shocking (not Jeffrey Deaver, thank goodness). A great detective story that could easily become a television series with this unique Inspector.
  • (5/5)
    A pre-Christmas funeral, a solitary mourner, a dead woman whose whole life had been littered with defeats and messy failures, a death bed promise to exact revenge. Just over three weeks later the murders begin.When the first victim's wife comes home from the theatre near midnight she finds her husband dead just inside the door, shot twice in the chest, twice under the belt.There are few clues for the police to work on. None of the neighbours noticed anything, there seems to have been no motive, the killer simply shot Malik when he opened the front door, then closed the door and walked away.Solving this case, amid a rising death toll, takes Inspector Van Veeteren and his team the best part of two months. The tension rises as the reader identifies the next victims, and the race is on to see who gets to them first: the police or the killer.Although this is the 4th of the Van Veeteren series, it is the first I have read. Van Veeteren is an interesting character, insisting on methodical techniques among his colleagues and subordinates, but more inclined to intuitive leaps himself. He insists in the end that i's are dotted and t's are crossed. This quotation sums up the sort of job he does: ".. we must continue playing our roles to the very end."The series take place in Maardam, a fictitious city in a made-up country that could be anywhere in northern Europe. Nesser's website says "Van Veeteren is a philosophical detective with a unique ability to draw lines between dots that are far apart and nearly invisible. He firmly believes that he is able to solve any murder case. He is somewhat enigmatic and at times difficult to deal with. Vaguely gruff, temperamental, a little eccentric, but overall very warm, and funny, and someone it’s easy to identify with."I found WOMAN WITH BIRTHMARK a relatively easy but satisfying read, and I'll certainly be looking for another.But read them in order if you can - I just have the hunch that will pay dividends.The books have been translated out of order but try to locate them in the order in which they were written: 1. MIND'S EYE (trans. 2008), published 1993 2. BORKMANN'S POINT (trans. 2006) - won the 'best novel' award from the Swedish Crime Writers' Academy in 1994. 3. THE RETURN (trans 2007) 4. WOMAN WITH BIRTHMARK (trans 2009), published 1996.Hakan Nesser (Håkan in Swedish, born February 21, 1950) is a Swedish author and teacher who has written a number of successful novels, mostly crime fiction. He has won Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times, and his novel Carambole won the Glass Key award in 2000. His books have been translated from Swedish into 9 languages. Hakan Nesser has published 20 books in Swedish. Four of them have so far been translated to English. The Van Veeteren series actually consists of 10 books, so let's hope the translations keep happening.
  • (3/5)
    Swedish Håkan Nesser is another of the magnicent Scandinavian thriller writers whose detective stories translate so comfortably into English: the oddly named Woman with a Birthmark is the fourth of the Chief Insopector van Veeteren stories. Divorced, unfit, and a smoker who enjoys the odd tipple, van Veeteren in a non-pc delight as he attempts to apprehend a serial killer who first unnerves victims by playing them a tune over the telephone before simply knocking on the door and shooting, twice through the heart, and twice through the gonads. A police proceedural where results are produced by hard work and massive good luck rather than by flashes of blinding insight, this is a despressingly believable read.
  • (5/5)
    I adore Håkan Nesser's books and Woman with Birthmark was no exception. Though Van Veeteren is a cranky main character, I love reading about him and this newly translated book is no exception. While Van Veeteren fights off both a cold and the desire to do nothing but sleep in, he manages to find himself wrapped up in a potential serial murder case. The story, and not just the characters, are engrossing and while we get to follow the murder as well as Van Veeteren, the motives remain a mystery. The book has a satisfying ending and I cannot wait to read whatever book of Nesser's is translated next.
  • (5/5)
    Very interesting plot. A real game of chase and a touch of chess
  • (3/5)
    Woman with Birthmark is the fourth novel in the Inspector Van Veeteren series, but you don’t need to have read the other three to understand everything. At least I haven’t read the rest of the series and I don’t think I missed anything important (or anything at all). Maybe if you know what happens in the previous books you have more insight on the characters, but they are described here as if the reader is meeting them for the first time.

    The characters are well written. As is it a group of characters, some have better lives than others, but they are all more or less happy. Not much of their home lives is described though, so there may be details in other books that point to the opposite.

    What I liked about this novel is that the murderer is a woman and that she is shooting her victims and not poisoning them. This confuses the detectives, because at first they believe the criminal is a man.

    The book in general is good, but part of the plot is predictable. Once you consider the possibility that the murderer is a woman, her reasons are a bit obvious. The victims are all men and they’re shot “below the belt”. It is easy to imagine why.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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!