Monday, 21 March 2011

The Inspector and Silence, by Hakan Nesser

The Inspector and SilenceThe Inspector and Silence by Håkan Nesser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although a crime fiction reader knows that a fiction book is just that, fiction, there still are some topics which are more disturbing than others. One of which is violence on children: and we know that this is going to be the theme of the book from the quote at the beginning.

When a teenage girl disappears from the Pure Life camp, run by a religious fanatic and his feeble-minded acolytes, inspector Van Veeteren is called in, despite the lack of evidence of a murder, even after the girl’s body is found. Then a second body is found in the wood and rumours start to emerge about the oddness of the sect and its members, and the goings-on at the camp.

Van Veeteren tries to interrogate various people at the camp but the young girls have been brainwashed and the adult women refuse to make any comments except to support their leader unconditionally. After extending the investigation further, Van Veeteren finally discovers an uncomfortable and disturbing truth.

Despite the grimness of the topic, Inspector and Silence is extremely discerning in the descriptions and this is not a violent book – descriptive violence not necessarily being a requirement of crime fiction, indeed in my opinion often detracting from the quality of the writing.

The description of the environment is extremely suggestive and as already mentioned, the difficult topic is dealt with very judiciously. The translation by Laurie Thomson manages to convert excellently a large number of idioms and the unusual expressions of Van Veeteren, achieving a good measure of fun even within the boundaries of a grim investigation.

Van Veeteren is an older and experienced detective and is looking forward to his retirement, and despite this being a character whose traits are not unique to the crime fiction literature we can’t help but empathise with him and the small pleasures of good food and wine.

I have enjoyed this book very much and am looking forward to reading the others in the series very soon.

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