The Inspector and Silence
Hakan Nesser; Laurie Thompson (Translator)
Pantheon, Jun 14 2011, $24.95
Between the Swedish summer heat, the workload, and his feeling he suffers from PTSD, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren considers strongly about retiring. He figures he deserves a vacation as he has kept putting it off and will decide when he comes back whether to submit his papers.
However, someone rapes and murders a young girl in the woods near the Pure Life sect encampment. Van Veeteren leads the investigation. When he and his team meet the charismatic leader of Pure Life, Oscar Yellinek; Van Veeteren thinks the man is pure evil and guilty but has no proof. The cops find the total silence of the members disturbing as no one utters a word and via passive resistance refuse to cooperate except an anonymous woman who keeps giving him tips while violent homicides occur.
The latest Swedish Inspector Van Veeteren police procedural (see Mind’s Eye and Woman with a Birthmark) is an entertaining bleak murder investigation. The protagonist’s fears he is over the edge when it comes to killers as he considers retirement. His doubts enhance the whodunit as Van Veeteren desperately wants to deliver swift justice instead of keeping predatory monsters safe until the courts to do their job. Although too much time is spent on Swedish food and other minor sidebars, fans of Scandinavian Noir will enjoy Van Veeteren’s dark frustration with legal justice being at a snail’s pace.