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The Return: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery    by Hakan Nesser order for
by Hakan Nesser
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

In this third in a series starring Swedish Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, a man's body is found in a wooded area, missing its head, hands and feet. Discovering who the man was and who killed him forces Van Veeteren to dig deeply into the human psyche along with collecting clues. Hakan Nesser, author of The Return, was awarded the 1993 Swedish Crime Writers' Academy Prize, and has won other prestigious awards since.

The action of this mystery takes place in Sweden. The victim had been a track star in his prime but lost his fame when accused of using prohibited substances. After that, he was accused and convicted of murdering his girlfriend. Spending twelve years in jail, he returned home to be accused a second time of murder. After twelve more years in jail, he returns home to face his own murder. The question that haunts Van Veeteren is whether the man was really guilty of murder in the first place. Had he spent twenty-four years of his life in prison as an innocent man?

This is an intriguing plot, skillfully worked. Even though the man is dead, the corpse comes alive again with Nesser's characterization. Van Veeteren is a person unto himself. In this novel, he is fighting intestinal cancer with the same fortitude with which he solves cases. The atmosphere in the police station must be extremely tense when he is in residence. But he is respected for being a stellar investigator. Was the victim innocent? The Return is a fine read, with action to suit every taste.

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