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Woman with Birthmark (Inspector Van Veeteren #4)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  3,446 Ratings  ·  241 Reviews
A mother’s dying wish sealed with a deadly promise. Four men with a secret they thought they’d buried decades ago. A detective in love. A man desperate to live despite the shadow of his guilty past.

After hearing her mother’s deathbed confession and following the dreary funeral, Maria Adler realizes she has no other option but to seize upon her mother’s imperative to do som
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Pantheon (first published 1996)
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonThe Snowman by Jo NesbøThe Redbreast by Jo Nesbø
Scandinavian/Nordic Mysteries
74th out of 253 books — 549 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonThe Ice Princess by Camilla LäckbergThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonThe Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell
Best Swedish Crime
12th out of 136 books — 44 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nancy Oakes
Hakan Nesser is another one of my all-time favorite writers of Scandinavian crime fiction. Woman With Birthmark is #4 in this series featuring Inspector Van Veeteren, a veteran detective in Maardam, whose location remains a mystery in itself. These books you can read as stand-alone novels, but there's always a plus to reading a series in order.

A solitary mourner at a funeral is at the heart of a baffling series of crimes. A young woman made a death-bed promise to her mother and has cleared the
May 05, 2009 Stephen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Henning Mankell fans
Recommended to Stephen by: Angie Howard
You must be a fan of the police procedural genre of mystery fiction to read Hakan Nesser. I'll go one further and say you have to be a fan of Scandinavian gloom as it effects the characters and the plot. If you read and enjoyed Henning Mankell, then you know exactly what I mean. The atmosphere is somehting altogether different from a book set almost anywhere else on the planet.

Also, you are reading in translation. Yes, I know, all translators are traitors, but without them we wouldn't have half
Mark Stevens
Jun 13, 2015 Mark Stevens rated it really liked it
The Shadows’ “The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt” (a gem of an instrumental) plays a key role in “Woman With Birthmark.” Like that song, there’s something clean, effortless and neatly scripted about Nesser’s plot, too. The song is played over the telephone by a woman stalking various men—men who later are shot in violent and intentionally up-close-and-personal ways. Also like that song, the feeling of reading this is light and airy. There’s a nice build and a nifty crescendo. Nesser shifts point ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: september-11
The book opens with a woman standing in a cemetry, a lone mourner at her mother's funeral. A man is then shot twice in his chest and twice below the belt following a series of phone calls where nothing is said but music is played down the line. Shortly after a second man, seeminly unconnected is killed in the same way.

Inspector Van Veeteren is struggling with a cold but must find some sort of connection between the two men before someone else dies. This book switches between the viewpoint of the
Maria João Fernandes
"Há males que vêm por bem."

Depois de mais de 30 anos, um segredo horrível vai, finalmente, ser desvendado. Será agora feita a justiça, que foi ignorada no passado?

O quarto livro da série do Inspector Van Veeteren começa com um funeral de uma mulher, ao qual apenas a sua solitária filha assiste. Dias antes do Natal, ao lado da campa da sua mãe, a mulher de 29 anos reflecte sobre a vida miserável da progenitora, tão semelhante à sua, e promete vingança àqueles que considera responsáveis pelos dois
Mar 10, 2012 Mysterytribune rated it really liked it
Woman with Birthmark (or in Swedish "Kvinna med födelsemärke") is a 1996 novel by Håkan Nesser, which won the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award in the same year. The English translation of the book was released in 2009 at the time when there was a Swedish Crime Fiction hype in the market. The book has also found its way into Television and a Swedish mini-series covered the novel in 2001.

A brief Summary:

Inspector Van Veeteren and his associates are left bewildered by the curious murder of a man shot
Apr 08, 2012 Ellen rated it really liked it

Woman with Birthmark
Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery, March 15, 2012
By Ellen Rappaport (Florida)
This review is from: Woman with Birthmark (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) (Paperback)
I've read all of the books in the Van Veeteren series and find that this Scandinavian author is a master among mystery masters. This particular book is no different-spellbinding and intense. I read this book on my Kindle.

The author begins by bringing the reader to a cemetary where an internment is takin
Jun 20, 2012 Ken rated it really liked it
Swedish crime novels are all the rage. This is a departure from my usual Italian mysteries but I became familiar with Chief Inspector Van Veeteren by watching international mysteries on TV. The auther, Haken Nesser, depicts Van Veeteren as a thoughtful and dutiful dectective in the last few years of his work. Indeed, in some stories he has retired to running a book store but can't give up the investigation work...much to the chagrin of his former subordinates. This is the first book I've read fr ...more
Jim Coughenour
May 25, 2009 Jim Coughenour rated it liked it
A few months ago it was the girl with the dragon tattoo. Now there's a woman with a birthmark. Is this a Swedish sub-genre?

I'm enjoyed this one more than Mind's Eye. There not much of a mystery here, and the crimes are more observed than solved - so it's not much of a policier either. The pleasure is all in the writing - especially in the mildly morose character of Van Veeteran. I still prefer Håkan Nesser to most American writers. Maybe I'm just an American sucker for that world-weary sophistic
3 1/2 entretenidas estrellas, pero...

Esto es lo que me ha pasado con esta novela, aunque estoy casi segura de que ello no ha afectado a la nota final: a mi ejemplar, de la biblioteca, le faltaban las ocho (8!) (pen)últimas páginas :O Sí, esa cara se me ha quedado, aunque la cosa ha sido tan surrealista que las páginas perdidas eran de la 292 a la 300 y me dejaron de propina la 301... así que, bueno, no es tan difícil suponer lo que pasaba en las que faltan, teniendo en cuenta el punto al que hab
Woman with Birthmark is the fourth novel in the Inspector Van Veeteren series, but you don’t need to have read the other three to understand everything. At least I haven’t read the rest of the series and I don’t think I missed anything important (or anything at all). Maybe if you know what happens in the previous books you have more insight on the characters, but they are described here as if the reader is meeting them for the first time.

The characters are well written. As is it a group of chara
Jul 07, 2009 Heyhansen rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-fiction
Yes. Another swedish crime thriller. Enjoyable, not unlike watching a crime tv show I suppose. But with a title like that I had to read it right?
This time Van Veeteren is after a female killer who is not only way ahead of him but also her prey. A really gloomy story actually, but the way it's offset with light banter and character insights into the police force it feels "light" rather than dark for some reason.
Aug 31, 2016 K rated it really liked it
Inspector Van Veeteren's character, along with his fellow police officers, are a little bit "Harry Hole Lite." A dark, Nordic tale, well told, but less complex in plot line than that of most Nesbo's work. Still, a bit more humorous throughout, which made for a very enjoyable read. I will read more of this series.
Aug 02, 2014 4cats rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Another great crime reader from Hakan Nesser who deserves a bigger readership. Funny, great plotlines and just super crime novels.
Ken Fredette
Nov 30, 2014 Ken Fredette rated it liked it
I've read this book before and didn't realize it until the final chapters. For those who haven't read this book, I'll not say how it ends.
Amit Tiwary
Jul 06, 2015 Amit Tiwary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-books
This is another fantastic book by Hakan Nesser. Superb plot! Loved this one too. Lead character VV is very likable and his team is also good. Fantastic characterization.

Tim Freeman
3 sessions to read this one, so it was quick quality read with all the trappings of a V.V. crime drama
Dec 02, 2009 Kat rated it it was ok
I like this writer and his characters, but as a mystery this one was pretty bad.
Carey Combe
Apr 14, 2010 Carey Combe rated it really liked it
So well written can’t believe that I wanted the murderer to succeed!
Jaroslav Dolejš
Mar 14, 2015 Jaroslav Dolejš rated it it was amazing
Super detektivka. Děj je dost akční(místy občas perverzní)a strhující. 5 z 5ti
Jan 02, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries
An amazing display with humor, great character sketches, and a tightly woven plot.
Jul 13, 2009 Jean rated it liked it
Was pretty predictable and a weak ending.
Trevor Pearson
Jun 05, 2016 Trevor Pearson rated it liked it
Over the course of a month there have been a string of murders that have left the Maardem Police Department, and especially Chief Inspector Van Veeteren baffled. What they know is that the victims have been middle-aged men that thirty years prior were members of the 1965 graduating class of the United Services Staff College. They were also harassed by telephone by a who person who said nothing but played a seemingly random song from the 1960's. 35 members of the graduating class 32 remain with 1 ...more
Title: Woman with Birthmark: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery (Book 4)
Author: Håkan Nesser
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Police Procedural
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
ISBN: 9780307387233
Translation Release Date: March 9, 2010
Rating: 2 1/2
[Read | Skim] [Buy |Borrow]

I read the previous Van Veeteren mysteries and I have to say this is my least favorite. Woman with Birthmark is for all intents and purposes a police procedural. It follows the detectives knocking on
May 06, 2009 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nesser, Hakan. WOMAN WITH BIRTHMARK. (1996, U.S.-2009). *****. This is the latest mystery in the author’s Inspecter Van Veeteren series. I’ve only read one other novel by Hakan, “Borkmann”s Point,” and thought it was terrific. This one was, too. The writing is very simple; clear and lucid. The plot moves ahead relentlessly, as we follow the action through the actions and thoughts of Van Veeteren and his crew. The story starts out with a mother’s dying wish to her daughter. We can’t hear the wish ...more
Anirban Das
Dec 12, 2014 Anirban Das rated it really liked it
THE WOMAN WITH A BIRTHMARK by Hakan Nesser is the fourth instalment in the series of crime novels set in the fictitious city of Maardam, featuring the previously a bit dark and brooding, but a very jolly and witty in this book, Inspector Van Veeteren. The novel starts with a funeral, where a daughter vows to undertake a mission in the memory of her mother. She changes name, takes up a new address and sets the plan in motion. Then we are confronted with a murder, of a seemingly dull businessman. ...more
Mar 05, 2014 Pablos rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Od dawna gdzie tylko mam okazję opowiadam jakie to fajne książki pisze Håkan Nesser. Uczciwie przy tym dodaję, że jednak seria o inspektorze Barbarottim jest sporo ciekawsza niż starsze książki o komisarzu Van Veeterenie. Kolejnym tom przygód tego ostatniego utwierdza mnie w moim przekonaniu. Książka jest na pewno inna od większości kryminałów, ale “tego czegoś”, co było obecne w praktycznie każdej z pięciu części serii o Barbarottim tu jednak nie ma.

Håkan Nesser zawsze ma do pokazania ciekawy d
Julie Failla Earhart
Jun 08, 2009 Julie Failla Earhart rated it it was amazing
First there was the British Invasion back in the 1960s when rock bands flooded the U. S. Now it seems that Swedish crime writers have taken the country be storm. First I discovered Henning Mankell (through PBS’ “Masterpiece Mystery!”) and now thanks to my local library, I have stumbled upon Hakan Nesser and his Inspector Van Veeteren mysteries.
In this fourth outing, Woman with a Birthmark, the way the murders occur makes the Inspector cringe. Each dead man suffers two shots to the chest and two
Kathleen Hagen
Woman With Birthmark, by Hakan Nesser, A-minus, narrated by Simon Vance, produced by Highbridge Company, downloaded from

After hearing her mother's deathbed confession and following the dreary funeral, Maria Adler realizes she has no other option but to seize upon her mother's
imperative to do something, to take action, to revenge the wrong done to herself and her mother. She cuts off all her contacts, changes her appearance, disappears, and then reappears only to wreak vengeance. Ins
Sep 07, 2010 Matt rated it liked it
Another Swedish mystery, this one dealing with Inspector Van Veteeren and his group, who are maybe a more interesting and diverse group than I'm used to-- some of them, like his lead detective (Reinhart?) and female detective Ewa Moreno, both play significant parts in the story.

This time around, at least, the mystery itself isn't all that interesting-- a woman on a plot to kill the four men who raped her mom thirty years earlier-- but Nesser gives a few twists that are kind of interesting, if mi
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Scandinavian Crim...: Woman with Birthmark by Håkan Nesser 1 22 Mar 10, 2012 01:12PM  
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Håkan Nesser is a Swedish author and teacher who has written a number of successful crime fiction novels. He has won Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times, and his novel Carambole won the Glass Key award in 2000. His books have been translated from Swedish into numerous languages.

Håkan Nesser was born and grew up in Kumla, and has lived most of his adult life in Uppsala. His first novel was p
More about Håkan Nesser...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Van Veeteren (10 books)
  • Mind's Eye (Inspector Van Veeteren #1)
  • Borkmann's Point (Inspector Van Veeteren #2)
  • The Return (Inspector Van Veeteren #3)
  • The Inspector and Silence (Inspector Van Veeteren #5)
  • Münsters Fall (Inspector Van Veeteren #6)
  • Hour of the Wolf (Inspector Van Veeteren #7)
  • Der Tote vom Strand. (Inspector Van Veeteren #8)
  • Die Schwalbe, die Katze, die Rose und der Tod (Inspector Van Veeteren #9)
  • Sein letzter Fall. (Inspector Van Veeteren #10)

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“He's not so thick, said Reinhart. It's mainly a question of tempo.” 0 likes
“If you are born on the edge of a barrel of shit, you have to accept the likelihood of falling into it now and then.” 0 likes
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