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Mind's Eye: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery    by Hakan Nesser order for
Mind's Eye
by Hakan Nesser
Order:  USA  Can
Pantheon, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Janek Mitter, a high school teacher of history and philosophy is accused of drowning his wife Eva in the bathtub in a drunken state. His defense is weak - he can't remember. Though Detective Chief Inspector Van Veeteren doubts Mitter's guilt - and is amused by the defendant's hilarious banter with the prosecutor - the evidence convinces judge and jury, and the crazy schoolteacher is sentenced to six years in the Majorna mental institution.

But he does not serve his time. The real killer - who is surprised and delighted by Mitter's amnesia - visits the psychiatric hospital, disguised as a woman, to stab to death the man who might yet reveal his identity. And it soon becomes clear to the reader - if not yet the police - that there have been multiple victims.

The story evolves as a well plotted police procedural with a unique, highly intuitive, and engaging lead. Van Veeteren is separated from his wife, who keeps toying with the notion of coming back to him. His daughter Jess is busy with her small twins and his son Erich is serving a two year drug smuggling sentence in prison. He likes to play badminton with colleagues and his regular resignations are torn up by his superiors.

Van Veeteren interviews Eva Mitter's mother and ex-husband, and works hard to identify a man she lied to the latter about, after being with him on several occasions. Police systematically work through all the names of staff at the school where both Mitters worked. The Inspector sets himself a time limit for catching the murderer, books a trip to Australia to enforce it, and uncovers more victims en route to unveiling 'a genuine Greek tragedy'.

Those who are already fans of the excellent Inspector Van Veeteren series will relish this English release of its debut (for which Nesser won the 1993 Swedish Crime Writers' Academy Prize for new authors), while those like me, who are new to Hakan Nesser's work, will immediately resolve to get started reading all the subsequent books.

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