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Woman with Birthmark

(Inspector Van Veeteren #4)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  4,632 ratings  ·  317 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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Pantheon (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,632 ratings  ·  317 reviews

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Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very interesting. Read it more for the characters than the mystery - it was fairly clear where this was going pretty early on, but still very well written.
Tony da Napoli
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My favorite inspector VV so far. I enjoy that the author uses the entire detective team and not just VV. After a few books you get to know the different characters. Like TV's Barney Miller.
Nov 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I enjoy this rather morose thoughtful series. It is interesting to follow along with the investigations & follow the detectives' reasoning. Each world weary character is developed with realism by the author. There are rare glimpses of humor also!
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
i like this series - they are easy/fast to read and offer decent crime plots - i just wish they were more suspenseful.
Rachel Hall
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

My first venture into the novels of Håkan Nesser was by virtue of the exceptional standalone thriller, The Living and the Dead in Winsford, set in a rural village located in Exmoor and I was struck by the mesmerising prose and how well Nesser tempered the pace to maintain knife-edge tension until the closing moments. From then on I wanted to read more of his novels and came upon Woman with Birthmark, the fourth novel in his now concluded and hugely popular, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren
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 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
Nov 01, 2010 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
Jim Fonseca
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: swedish-authors

A great Swedish mystery. Our chief detective is divorced. He’s a chess player and classical music enthusiast. He seems like a great guy without the overwhelming quirks that a lot of literary and TV detectives have these days. Men from a military graduation class thirty years ago are being killed one by one; two shots to the chest; two to the groin. While the mystery unravels, we get a bit of the local color of urban Sweden. This story, one of a series of Inspector Van Veeteren mysteries, also
Charlene Intriago
I decided to continue with this series even though I had my doubts after the last book. HOWEVER, this book was really good. Lots of reviews on this one so I can't add much to the discussion, but this is the story of a woman who was wronged and everyone else who was affected. I did like the fact that the author drew the reader in with bits and pieces of flashbacks into the "why" of what was happening and that Inspector Van Veeteren had a little bit more help from the other detectives in solving ...more
Apr 08, 2012 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
Bonnie Brody
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
It is right before Christmas and a woman is burying her mother, the only mourner at her grave. She is 29 years old and has lived a miserable life of poverty and addiction. All she has left, once her mother dies, is her own determination, resolve "and the mission". What this mission is, serves as the marrow of this mystery.

Shortly after Christmas, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is trying to solve a difficult crime. A man has been murdered by two shots to the chest and two to his groin. By all
Deb Jones
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite Inspector Van Veeteren title among the first four in the series -- and I enjoyed the previous three immensely.

Van Veeteren and his team are investigating first one seemingly random murder, then a second with the same MO. The team work to determine what, if any connection, the two victims had to each other in order to determine a motive and move them closer to finding the cold-blooded killer. Will there be more victims, and if so, how many and who?

From the beginning of the
Sep 10, 2011 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
Jim Coughenour
May 21, 2009 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 enjoyed this one more than Mind's Eye. There's 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
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very dark police procedural. The weather sucks and somebody is killing men when they answer their front doors. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is curmudgeonly as ever, and if it weren't for his team, this would be an utter bleak-fest. I do really enjoy their long-term struggle for a break or a clue that connects the murdered men.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I will try another Van Veeteren as several were available from my library and I did borrow others, but based on this one...maybe not.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with several of the positive reviews, this is about the characters and not the crime being played out or solved. Pace is slow and underwhelming just like a real life occurrence.
Mar 10, 2012 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
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
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
Jun 20, 2012 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 ...more
Apr 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is a good story, but the translation leaves a lot to be desired. The translator seems to have decided that if he or she used a lot of American colloquialisms, it would sound like native English. But the excessive use of colloquialisms in this book just makes it sound kind of like a clunky translation.

At any rate, if you can get past the translation, the story itself is pretty compelling and the details of the mystery are good. I had figured out the answer, though, by the time I was halfway
Jun 03, 2009 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.
Ken Fredette
Nov 21, 2014 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.
Jul 24, 2014 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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amit Tiwary
Jul 02, 2015 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.

Trevor Pearson
Jun 05, 2016 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 ...more
Peter Weissman
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Absorbing mystery, good ensemble team of detectives, and a pr0tagonist/inspector with a brooding, intuitive approach brought to mind Simenon's Inspector Maigret, except Van Veeteren is more crocherty and amusing. The whole team, in fact, has an ironic take on everyday dystopian life in Sweden. Not that this book and others by Hakan Nesser lack the graphic aspect of other, typical Scandinavian mysteries, but its compensations transcend the grotesque.
May 24, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Scandinavian Crim...: Woman with Birthmark by Håkan Nesser 1 24 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

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)
“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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