Review: Borkmann’s Point by Hakan Nesser

Borkmann’s Point: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery
by 
Håkan Nesser
Paperback, 321
Translation Published June 2009 by Vintage (First Published 1994)
Translated by Laurie Thompson
Rating: 3/5

Could it be true there is

a necessity behind most murders, a compulsion stronger than anything behind [an]other action? (BK — 294-295).

Perhaps it’s true or perhaps it’s nothing but pure hokum.  The Axman in Håkan Nesser‘s Borkmann’s Point certainly thought murder was a necessary means to an end.

Borkmann’s Point is the second installment in the Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery series.  I didn’t enjoy Borkmann’s Point as much as I hoped.  Even after the second read.  The plot was very thin and the characters, except for Beate Moerk, remained static.  Oddly enough I didn’t like DCI Van Veeteren as much in this novel as much as I liked him in Mind’s Eye (click here to read my review).

Inspector Van Veeteren is on vacation and asked to assist with two gruesome murders in nearby Kalbringen in which the heads of two victims have been severed with what is suspected to be an ax. Van Veeteren is just as cantankerous if not more so in Borkmann’s Point than in Mind’s Eye.

Although the characters are static Nesser does a good job at developing them, so that we have a good idea about who they are.  However, Nesser doesn’t give us a reason to be invested in them, except for Beate Moerk and Münster.  Inspector Kropke is a real prig and Chief Bausen wants this case behind him, so he can retire in peace. I enjoyed Beate Moerk’s character.  Perhaps because she is a very ambitious woman on top of her game in a man’s world.  She has put marriage and children on hold in order to focus on her career.  Moerk has a lot of potential as a character and I hope Nesser will flush her out more in coming books, just as he is starting to do with Münster.

As I stated earlier the plot is very thin and it moves along pretty slowly too.  It gets jump started when Nesser carefully weaves the ax-man’s narrative into the story then it quickly fizzles out.  Parts four and five seemed to focus more on solving the murders than the earlier parts in which we see Chief Bausen and Inspector Van Veeteren playing a lot of chess, drinking a lot of beer, eating a lot of good food, and taking quite a lot of baths (not together of course).

I figured out who the ax-man was long before it was revealed, or rather confirmed.  I didn’t want to and had hoped that it wasn’t who I thought it was because I wanted to be shocked, but perhaps that is not Nesser‘s modus operandi.  Nesser wants you to figure it out.  To take that journey with Van Veeteren all the way to case closed.

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