My first encounter with Hakan Nesser’s work was when Borkmann’s Point was first published in England a couple of years back. This introduced me to his series detective, Inspector Van Veeteren, and an intriguing setting in a country that is not named – some people suggest his home town is on the border between Germany and Holland, but who knows?
I haven’t yet read The Return, second in the English version of the series (we have not seen them in the chronological order in which they were written) but I found the third book, The Mind’s Eye, to be quite superb. I’d thought the solution of Borkmann’s Point – much as I enjoyed the story – to be slightly predictable, but The Mind’s Eye ticks all the boxes.
In person, Hakan Nesser is very tall and extremely articulate and personable. He’s a prolific novelist, and wrote ten books about Van Veeteren, although he’s now focusing on other things. He told delegates that he likes to write the first draft of his stories in longhand before typing them up, and he’s one of those authors who doesn’t know in detail how his books are going to develop when he starts writing them.
I talked to him briefly when he inscribed copies of his books for me, and at greater length during the Gala Dinner. His speech was arguably the best of a good bunch, and for someone whose first language is not English, it was an astonishing achievement. I found myself admiring him, as well as being deeply impressed that he is famous enough to warrant the production of a small book about him – The Freewheeling Hakan Nesser, copies of which were available to the delegates at Bristol. I've just obtained a copy of his latest UK book, Woman With a Birtmark, and I look forward to devouring it.