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Inspector Van Veeteren #5

The Inspector and Silence

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Dass er spannende Geschichten erzählen kann, deren Auflösung auch Kenner des Genres unerwartet trifft, hat btb-Bestsellerautor Håkan Nesser bereits mehrfach und mit großem Erfolg bewiesen. Seine Fangemeinde in Deutschland ist inzwischen riesig. Mit seinem eigenwilligen Ermittler Van Veeteren hat er einen Helden geschaffen, der das Zeug zum Klassiker hat - ein Mann mittleren Alters mit Magenbeschwerden, der klassische Musik liebt und seine Fälle mit einer Mischung aus schwarzem Humor und Intuition löst. Diesmal steht Van Veeteren vor einer besonders schwierigen Aufgabe. Aus einem Ferienlager sind zwei kleine Mädchen verschwunden. Kurz darauf werden sie ermordet aufgefunden. Steckt ein obskurer Sektenführer hinter den Taten? Oder hat man es mit einem unbekannten Psychopathen zu tun? Vor allem aber: Kann Van Veeteren ihn stoppen, bevor er erneut zuschlägt?


First published January 1, 1997

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About the author

Håkan Nesser

135 books1,005 followers
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 published in 1988, but he worked as a teacher until 1998 when he became a full-time author. In August, 2006, Håkan Nesser and his wife Elke moved to Greenwich Village in New York.

* Inspector Van Veeteren
* Inspector Barbarotti

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 344 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,382 reviews7,088 followers
March 15, 2021
The Swedes are certainly going great guns recently. Here we have another great Swedish detective - Inspector Van Veeteren.

Van Veeteren is nearing retirement age, and is dreaming of taking a pleasant little job as an assistant in a local book shop. He is thinking about his forthcoming summer holiday and goes into a travel agent, where he waits behind an attractive woman whom he recognises from a previous case. She is booking a solo holiday in Crete. He knows the location and the hotel – all good. He leaves the shop and contacts another travel agent, with whom he books himself into the hotel at the same date.

That seems to be his summer sorted. He is an extremely laid-back character, his main interests being food, wine and classical music. But of course all his best-laid plans go completely awry when he gets involved in a case.

There is an extremist religious sect called The Pure Life who run a summer camp for young teenage girls in a forest by a local lake. The sect is headed by one Oscar Yellinek, who sees himself as God’s chosen,one but in fact he has an unsavoury past. He is assisted by three women who are completely in his thrall, and it is believed by the locals that he sleeps with all three of them. The daily routine for the young girls is Bible reading and prayers and a lot of nude bathing in the lake.

The book opens with one of the girls absconding in the middle of the night, and we know that she is murdered with horrific violence. The local police inspector, Kluuge, who is the laziest man alive and has never had to deal with anything more serious than a traffic offence, gets an anonymous phone call from a woman who says that one of the girls from the camp has gone missing. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is drafted in to assist.

Van Veeteren is initially not very interested in the case, but he goes along to the camp and is completely cold-shouldered by all the members of the sect – Yellinek, his three assistants and the girls. They all insist that no-one has gone missing. Even when he splits them up and interviews them separately they refuse to answer his questions. He begins to think that despite his thorough dislike of the sect and everything to do with it there may be nothing in it. He nevertheless gets to know the locality, mainly through the local restaurants, and a Polish journalist who runs one of the local newspapers. Van Veeteren and the journalist become good friends.

There are only two houses in the vicinity of the Pure Life camp, occupied by two rather strange families, the Finghers and the Kuijpers. Everything changes when Inspector Kluuge receives a further anonymous call telling him that another of the girls has gone missing, and where to find the body. Van Veeteren knows the girl as he had interviewed her the previous day. She has been brutally raped and strangled.

When Van Veeteren returns to The Pure Life he discovers that Yellinek has disappeared but has forbidden all the other residents to answer any of the police’s questions.

Despite these obstacles, the remainder of the book eventually leads to the solving of the crimes, and moves at a faster pace once the second victim – the original missing girl – is discovered. Nesser writes with a lightness of touch that completely captivates the reader. Van Veeteren is an appealing character, who although he appears emotionally detached from the events, has a strong moral sense. Really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,085 reviews7,009 followers
July 3, 2022
A barely teenage girl is sexually assaulted and killed at a summer camp run by a weird religious cult. Just about the only male around is the cult leader who keeps a harem of three women who do all the work with the girls. He’s sleazy enough to even deny that the girl was ever at his camp. So he’s the obvious suspect and then he goes missing. Does his flight help confirm his guilt? Then more bodies turn up.


The cult leader rules with an iron fist. The women say nothing and hardly acknowledge the Inspector’s questions. The girls at the camp have been terrified into the ‘Silence’ of the title.

The Inspector has his quirks. He’s into chess, poetry, classical music and discussion of philosophy. Are those things so rare today as to be ‘quirks’? Lol. He’s at the end of his career and tired of all the evil doings he’s had to deal with. The story is written as if the author intended this to be the last book in the Inspector Van Veeteren series. But it’s #5 and he went on to write six more! The Inspector spends a lot of company time dining out and thinking about the case over fine food, a glass of wine, and his next ‘last cigarette.’ He (and some of his colleagues) worry that he might be getting Alzheimer’s.

There’s humor. I like one passage where one of his recently-divorced detectives, turning Casanova, changes his hair and dress style and is variously called by his colleagues a ‘Woodstock mummy,’ a ‘depraved yuppie’ and a ‘detoxed rock star of the 60s.’

I generally liked the story but I’m only giving it a ‘3’ for two reasons. First, the questioning getting nowhere was TOO dragged out. Halfway through the book the Inspector tells his colleagues ‘we know no more now than when we started.’ True. So how is the reader supposed to be kept intrigued?

Second, we all know that all our fictional detectives have marvelous powers of intuition. But give us a few more clues along the way and then tell us how you figured it out besides intuition. I found that explanation lacking in the end.

This is my 4th book in the Van Veeteren series so I obviously enjoy them. GR says of the series: These books play out in a fictitious city called Maardam, said to be located in northern Europe in a country which is never named but resembles Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany. The names however are mostly Dutch.


By the way, I note that the blurb is in Swedish, here’s the blurb for the same book in English from another site on GR:

“A secretive and dubious religious sect comes under investigation as one of their young members, a girl on the cusp of puberty, is found dead in the forest, brutally raped and strangled. Adopting to remain silent over the incident rather than defend themselves, the members of The Pure Life--led by their intelligent but perturbing messiah figure, Oscar Yellineck--simultaneously anger and mystify Van Veeteren and the other detectives on the case. What's more, the girl's murder was tipped off by an unidentified woman, whose role becomes doubly perplexing as a string of increasingly horrifying new crimes defies everything the police thought they knew about the case and its sequence of events.”

The Swedish author (b. 1950) has a more recent series of six books in the Inspector Barbarotti series that I thought I might like to try. He has also written another dozen books not in any series. Not all of his books are translated into English but many more are in English than are listed on GR, so you have to search the web for a complete list.

Top photo at a summer camp in Sweden from de.aqualife-sport.com
The author from bookrelease.com
June 5, 2017
Labouring under the perpetually draining heat of a stifling summer in Maardam, a jaded and typically morose Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is clearly in the autumn of his career and contemplating retirement more seriously than ever before. Approaching sixty and with thirty-five-years service in the bag the advertisement offering a potential partnership in Krantze's antiquarian bookshop and more time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, which for introspective Van Veeteren include beer, playing chess, classical music and a cigarette, takes a firm hold. Thwarted in his desire for a peaceful summer sojourn at the family cottage by ex-wife, Renate, he books a fortnight in Crete with high hopes on the romance front. With two-weeks remaining before his holiday is due to begin avoiding responsibility for investigations which might run into his departure date is a must, hence a request for his expertise in the idyllic tranquility of the forests of Sorbinowo, reassuring the acting Chief of Police, sounds like the perfect start to his break. If only life was that simple... but it never is for Van Veeteren.

In the absence of his boss, stand-in Chief of Police in Sorbinowo is Merwin Klugge whose three-years service to date have amounted to little more than paper pushing and finds himself daunted by an anonymous caller reporting a disappearance of a girl from the summer camp that plays host to a religious sect by the name of the Pure Life at Waldingen. Enquiring and having his fears allayed Klugge thinks no more about the matter but consults Van Veeteren whose famous intuition leads him to assign a couple of days to running his eye over matters. Venturing out to the summer camp at Waldingen to take a closer look at just what is going on does nothing but incur the wrath of Van Veeteren when the long-haired and remarkably supercilious "priest" in the shape of Oscar Yellinek refuses to cooperate or even answer questions and refutes any claims of a girl being missing. Likewise, the three adult sisters who run the camp alongside Yellinek seem a similarly recalcitrant bunch, refusing to even confirm the names of the girls staying at the camp and Van Veeteren is faced with a wall of silence by the twelve teenage girls who make up the party with concerns over "betraying their faith".

Despite Van Veeteren's distaste for the Pure Life camp and his view that Yellinek is brainwashing the emotionally unstable girls who attend, the rumoured speaking in tongues, driving out of the Devil and sex rituals worries him more, but significantly none of that in and of itself amounts to a crime. However, Yellinek's previous brush with the law causes Van Veeteren to dig deeper into just what goes on at Waldingen. Chancing upon a friend of his chess partner's at the cinema, himself a journalist and learned gent by the name of Andrej Przebuda, Van Veeteren finds a man of enviable intelligence whose intention of reporting on the goings on at the camp the previous summer paints a keener picture of an unedifying setup with the cornerstone beliefs of "prayers, self-denial and purity" preached. More of a marathon than a sprint, this investigation sees Chief Inspector Van Veeteren descend on Sorbinowo before any crime has even been confirmed and with so little of substance to go, he is half minded to steer clear.. that is until Klugge's anonymous caller picks up the phone again out of frustration at the lack of police response and reports the exact location of a dead girl. Naked, placed against a tree trunk lies the body of Clarissa Heerenmacht, a girl of twelve raped and with her larynx crushed. Given that she is the self same girl that Van Veeteren spoke to just days earlier and the most outspoken of the group, how is he to interpret this if not an attempt to silence dissent?

Clearly not the first reported disappearance that the anonymous caller spoke of, Van Veeteren's intuition tells him that life in the Waldingen camp is not quite so idyllic as the Pure Life sect are eager to portray. Just as he starts to worry that there could be a previous girl missing, the "divine" leader Oscar Yellinek flees the camp before the police arrive, supposedly on a personal mission of mercy from the main man himself. With the three sister taken into isolation at a psychiatric hospital and the girls being supported by numerous psychologists, breaking through the wall of silence surrounding Yellinek proves an arduous endeavour. And even after the discovery of Clarissa's body there is still no proof linking the murder back to the Pure Life sect, leaving Van Veeteren with some serious thinking and a very short fuse.

Given the sensitivity in an age of political correctness where even venturing into an investigation of this nature is often cited as being nothing more than driven by groundless accusations and discrimination, Nesser draws this strand out astutely. Even Van Veeteren cannot help but compare how the psychologists and those assigned to looking after the minors act more like bodyguards and seem to work against the police interests of a thorough examination. Van Veeteren knows that the eyes of the media will be on the sensitive handling by the police and this certainly adds an urgency to just how much of strain the investigation proves to be. Nesser illustrates the frustrations that effectively handcuff the officers investigating and necessitates that they jump over hurdles alongside investigating. The discovery of a second girls body in a similar condition but evidently murdered prior to that of Clarissa Heerenmacht brings the full media circus to town and frustrated by the slow pace the angst of the investigating team is readily apparent and confirms a fear that the reported disappearance of ten days prior was accurate.

Some readers may find themselves frustrated by the length of time it takes for the investigation to come to a head and how difficult it is to prove a crime has been perpetrated in the hostile environment where speaking out is perpetuated by the myth of being a supposed betrayal of faith. Despite it slow-burning development this is a fine opportunity for Van Veeteren to showcase his analytical methods and to go about the case from different angles in order to tackle the root of the problem and when things aren't going well to trust his intuition. A brilliantly trivial detail holds the key to making the crucial breakthrough but faced with the two teenage girls brutally raped and strangled, can the legendary Van Veeteren really face another case of this nature?

I would not recommended The Inspector and Silence being read without some appreciation of what has gone before in the series as on balance readers could construe that Van Veeteren is an infernal moaner who doesn't really have too much to complain about. However, through the course of his prior outings regular readers will have picked up on his feelings of impotence and futility as a crime fighter seemingly resigned to awaiting the next impending fatality that winds up on his door. Increasingly despondent about his limited power in the grand scheme of thing perhaps it may well be time for the great man to ride off into the sunset or indeed an antiquarian bookshop! Another excellent instalment of a consistently high quality series.

Whatever the nature of the current investigation Nesser manages to mine a rich vein of dry humour throughout his narrative and despite unsettling events the character of Chief Inspector Van Veeteren manages to ruminate on his life and whatever else takes his fancy, something which ensures a quirky offbeat humour to spending time in his company. With Laurie Thompson being as familiar with the characters in play and the irascible Van Veeteren this superb translation brims with warmth.

Apologies for the length!
Profile Image for Nancy Oakes.
1,922 reviews732 followers
October 19, 2011
Left to man the Sorbinowo police station while the chief takes time off to get over the death of his wife, Sergeant Merwin Kluuge isn't expecting much trouble in this bit of paradise. But it's not long until he receives an anonymous call from a woman claiming that a little girl has disappeared from a camp in Waldingen run by the Pure Life religious sect. The people at the camp say everyone's accounted for. The next day he gets yet another anonymous phone call from the same woman, who threatens to go to the press if Kluuge doesn't do something. But what sends him into a minor panic, and has him reaching for the phone to call the Mardaam police is when she says that if continues to do nothing, "they'll kill some more." His chief had left orders not to be disturbed and to call Maardam if anything came up, because Van Veeteren owed him. Of course, V.V. is not happy about this, since he's bought a plane ticket for Crete, but off he goes to Sorbinowo. But when he gets to the Pure Life camp, the group will hardly give him the time of day, and swear that no one's disappeared. He's allowed to talk to some of the girls, but they're not saying much. The next day, the body of a young girl is discovered -- she had been raped and murdered. But Van Veeteren realizes that something's off -- he recognizes the dead girl as one of those to whom he had just spoken to the day before. So if she had been alive the day before, how could she be the missing girl the caller warned about earlier? So what happened to that girl? It isn't long until Van Veeteren and the police get their answer. Complicating the issue is the fact that the small group at the Pure Life camp, with the exception of one girl who is very upset, is not talking. No matter how much Van Veeteren and the others question them, nobody is saying a word -- or when they do, it's to extol the virtues of their religious beliefs and to put down those living in "the Other World." The leader, Yellinek, has disappeared; no one knows anything about it -- or if they do, they're not saying anything. Frustrated, Van Veeteren knows that this case will not be easy to crack -- first he has to break through the wall of silence.

This is a fascinating book, actually, one that showcases V.V. at his best. While he pleads with the members of Pure Life to offer up any information they can to help find the murder and rapist of two young girls, nobody seems to care about anything except maintaining the integrity of the sect and defending their missing leader. Small wonder that he has his eye on trading years of police work for a partnership in an antiquarian book store -- seriously, you can sense his frustration leaping off of the pages. Although the crimes in The Inspector and Silence are particularly horrifying, Nesser as usual uses some moments of sarcasm and humor to ease the tension. He also continues the tradition of great characterization and a powerful sense of place, elements that never waver throughout any of his novels. While many people said they didn't care for this book, I thought it was one of the better ones in the series.

Definitely recommended for Scandinavian crime fiction readers, but do start with book one in the series. The Van Veeteren novels really are more on the cerebral, rather than the action-packed side, so if you're looking for someone a la Nesbø or Stieg Larsson, you won't find it here -- and this begs the question as to why on the cover of my copy there is a blurb from the Sunday Times saying "[Nesser] is being favorably compared with Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson." Nesser doesn't need to compare favorably -- he has his own style which is every bit as good or even better than the authors with whom he is "being favorably compared."
Profile Image for Berengaria.
360 reviews65 followers
February 27, 2021
2.5 Stern auf 3 aufgerundet.

Langsam werde ich von Triebtäterkrimis gelangweilt. Besonders wenn wir einen verschwitzen, atemlosen Einblick in dessen Gedanken gewährt sind. Am Anfang oder am Ende, ist egal. John Malkovitch hat's schön gesagt: „serial killers are boring". Stimmt. Sie sind eintönig in ihren Motiven und hervorsehbar in ihrem Wahnsinn. Leider geben sie mit Links genug Stoff für einen 450-Seiten Krimi her, was der Whodunnit nicht tut.

Ich hatte Schweirigkeiten, mich auf diese Geschichte zu konzentrieren. Die Basis der Geschichte ist nicht schlecht, aber die Kultfrauen und Kinder waren auf die Dauer ermüdend und die Einsichten von Kommissar van Veeteren über Glaube und Mord waren nichts weiter als konventionelle Sentimentalität. (Religion ist Hokus-Pokus, Mord ist *weinkrampf* so schrecklich!). Auch das in Christie-Styl gehaltenes Ende war eine Entäuschung. Ein Durchschnitskrimi eben.

Die Hörbuchfassung ist aber ziemlich gut gelungen. Sprecher Dieter Moor hat eine angenehme, flexible Stimme, mit der er mehrere Figuren gut darstellen kann. Mann weiß immer wer spricht, was die Geschichte eine zusätzliche Note gibt.
Profile Image for Deb Jones.
713 reviews81 followers
July 21, 2019
Author Hakan Nesser can do no wrong in my eyes in the Inspector Van Veeteren series. As always, the inspector is introspective, but especially so in this, the fifth in this series of books.

"VV" as many of his fellow detectives refer to him, is again considering retirement from the police force, but this time with an actual plan in place. Meanwhile, he is embroiled in an investigation into the murder(s) of adolescent girls who are part of a minor religious sect.
Profile Image for Hannah.
238 reviews59 followers
May 18, 2019
1.5 - Meh (rounded to 2 stars on GR because I’ve read worse)

I bought this book at a local book sale, so I had zero expectations going in. I’m not disappointed in the low rating because I hadn’t heard of the book until I bought it a few weeks back.

The Inspector and Silence tells the story of Inspector Van Veeteren, a Swedish detective, as he tries to solve a case involving the Pure Life — a religious cult. Unbeknownst to me when I bought it, this book is number five out of ten in a series that follows Van Veeteren. Admittedly, that could play a factor in why I didn’t connect with the book.

I found the story itself interesting — a murder involving a cult? Quite interesting. However, just about everything else fell flat for me.

I didn’t connect to any of the characters, even on a superficial level. I just finished the book and can’t remember anyone else’s name other than Van Veeteren (not promising). Everyone, including our inspector, just felt one dimensional.

The writing was also problematic; it felt mechanical. The dialogues were back and forths, but not in a witty or clever way that some authors are known for. The prose is also just blah. Some of the phrases the author chose were awkward and didn’t make sense. Thought, that might have to do with the translator (Laurie Thompson) than Nesser. It makes me wonder, if the translator was better, would I have enjoyed this book more?

Do I recommend this one? Eh, no. I think you’re good skipping it.
Profile Image for Livia.
16 reviews1 follower
October 7, 2011
I was disappointed by this book. I'd read all the other Nesser books so far translated into English and I was looking forward to this one, so I felt a little let down. The story opens promisingly enough with a mysterious phonecall in which an unidentified woman claims a girl has been murdered at a site used by a secretive religious group. Van Veeteren gets involved and finds a wall of silence, as the book title suggests. Unfortunately, the denoument fails to live up to the promise shown earlier in the story, and the reader gets the impression that Nesser tacked the solution on to the story almost at random; it seems to come from nowhere, bears little relation to the rest of the plot and is highly unsatisfying. If you only read one book from this series, I recommend Borkmann's Point instead.
Profile Image for Janet Richards.
474 reviews86 followers
August 1, 2011
I really like VV - he's human, intuative, and deeply moved by the horrors he has seen including the little girls in this book. It was heading toward a 5 star read, but the ending of the book was weak to me. Nevertheless - the telling of the story was superb. I will read more of the VV mysteries and Nesser to my growing list of favorite European crime writers.
Profile Image for Miles.
293 reviews39 followers
April 16, 2011
My first introduction to Håkan Nesser, “The Inspector and silence” affords the reader a thoroughly enjoyable sojourn to Sorbinowo, a forested Swedish lake side town. Looks can be deceptive however and the forest, along with the town, hides a dark secret that local police cannot fathom – enter chief inspector Van Veeteren.

When I began reading “The Inspector and silence” which is incidentally the fifth in a series of ten books to be released in the UK, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect having never heard of either Håkan or indeed Van Veeteren! It became clear to me within a couple of chapters that the narrative, considering it hails from Swedish descent, was engaging and fluid. Having now read the book to its conclusion, much to my surprise, I can now confirm that this fluidity remained throughout allowing a rapid and entertaining read. I can’t remember reading another translated novel that read so effortlessly – plaudits to Nesser and of course the translation services of Laurie Thompson.

“In the heart of summer, the country swelters in a fug of heat. In the beautiful forested lake-town of Sorbinowo, Sergeant Merwin Kluuge’s tranquil existence is shattered when he receives a phone-call from an anonymous woman. She tells him that a girl has gone missing from the summer camp of the mysterious The Pure Life, a religious sect buried deep in the woods. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is recruited to help solve the mystery.

But Van Veeteren’s investigations at The Pure Life go nowhere fast. The strange priest-like figure who leads the sect -Oscar Yellineck- refuses even to admit anyone is missing. Things soon take a sinister turn, however, when a young girl’s body is discovered in the woods, raped and strangled; and Yellineck himself disappears. Yet even in the face of these new horrors, the remaining members of the sect refuse to co-operate with Van Veeteren, remaining largely silent.

As the body count rises, a media frenzy descends upon the town and the pressure to find the monster behind the murders weighs heavily on the investigative team. Finally Van Veeteren realises that to solve this disturbing case, faced with silence and with few clues to follow, he has only his intuition to rely on. . .”

Full review on my blog:- http://www.milorambles.com/2011/04/16...
Profile Image for Pascale.
1,150 reviews43 followers
February 10, 2017
The most pointless, cliched, feebly-plotted murder mystery ever. Beautiful young girls brutally raped and strangled? Give me a break! The story unwinds at a snail's pace and after pointing the finger at the leader of the sect to which the girls belonged, of course our author plucks another culprit at random. Why do such books get published at all, I wonder? It's not even sexy or scary, just boring beyond belief.
Profile Image for Maddy.
1,689 reviews73 followers
February 5, 2016
PROTAGONIST: Inspector Van Veeteren
SETTING: Fictional country resembling Sweden
SERIES: #5 of 10

Inspector Van Veeterren is at a crossroads. Personally, things are less than satisfactory. After a failed marriage, he feels the stirrings of desire to embark on a new relationship, something that will bring him to life again. Professionally, he is feeling worn out and mulling retirement after 35 years on the job. He has found himself tempted by a “for hire” sign in a small local bookstore. After so many years of high pressure and being exposed to so much human misery, Van Veeterren is ready for a quiet life.

But that is not about to happen yet. In two weeks, he is scheduled to go on holiday to Crete. But those plans threaten to be interrupted when the police receive an anonymous phone call from a woman who states that a girl who has been attending a cult-like camp called “Pure Life” has been murdered. The people in charge of the camp deny that there is anyone missing. Van Veeterren is extremely uncomfortable about what he sees at the facility. Young adolescent girls are sunbathing naked; when he interviews the girls, they seem almost brainwashed. There are three adult women at the camp, along with a Messiah like figure named Oscar Yellinek. Even after the girl’s body is found, the sect leaders hide behind a cloak of silence; and the girls who remain at the camp are equally close-mouthed. The only one talking is the original tipster who has informed the police that there are other victims. She has gone so far as to move a body to ensure that the police are able to find it.

Given the lack of cooperation, the investigation is a frustrating one. Van Veeterren relies on his team to do most of the work; he tries to figure out exactly what Pure Life is all about and to better understand Yellinek’s mysterious hold over the group. Unfortunately for the reader, the investigation doesn’t move forward quickly; and it feels like the same ground is being covered over and over and over again. The slow pace of the narrative dampened any sense of tension, although there is one scene where the murderer is approaching a victim that is quite suspenseful. On the other hand, the characterization is excellent; I particularly enjoyed seeing several members of the police team more fleshed out in this book.

THE INSPECTOR AND SILENCE is the fifth of ten books in the series. It will be interesting to see where Nesser takes Van Veeterren. given how world weary he has grown and how alluring retirement seems to him.

824 reviews6 followers
May 31, 2017
I read this during a plane ride to Sweden and coincidentally sat next to a woman who was from the author's home town. Although I got a kick out of the main character, Inspector Van Veteren, VV for short, I thought VV was a little short on the detecting side of things. I discovered the murderer in the first 100 pages and had to wait another 150 pages while VV dawdled, drank and detected, before he found the culprit. While the settings were interesting, taking place in some fictional Northern European country, I found this to be a yawner for the most part. I will not be reading any more of these, even though the author has been acclaimed in his native Sweden.
Profile Image for Anna Larson.
37 reviews2 followers
October 27, 2011
My first Nesser novel and I was ultimately bored for most of the book. The main character, Van Veeteren spends a lot of time doing nothing then "by chance" discovers the clue to solve the murders.

I also was unimpressed with character development...I couldn't keep some of the lesser important police detectives straight and they served no purpose other than to remind me that Van Veeteren would solve this because that's what he did...

Perhaps if I'd read other Nesser novels i might have appreciated this one more? In my opinion...Nesser could have skipped the entire middle of the book and made it a short story with a much better review from me.
Profile Image for Danielle.
258 reviews3 followers
October 14, 2017
Weer een prima commissaris van Veeteren, misschien wel de beste tot nu toe, leest lekker weg, prima leesvoer na een drukke werkweek.
Profile Image for Tahmeena.
88 reviews4 followers
September 13, 2017
Nice to get back to this excellent series. Dark thriller with lots of introspection, interesting characters, and good humor.
Profile Image for Ellen.
950 reviews126 followers
July 17, 2014

The Inspector and Silence
The Silence of Gloom, March 21, 2012
By Ellen Rappaport (Florida)
This review is from: The Inspector and Silence: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery (Hardcover)
This is the 5th book in the Chief Inspector Van Veeteren series which I have read. This appeared to me to be the heaviest of emotions displayed by the author in the characters.
Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is seriously considering and even planning on his retirement from the Swedish Police Force after 35 years of service. This goal is not accompanied by happy thoughts of a relaxing future but rather of a heavy depression. Van Veeteren has set a date for his vacation coming up the following month. That gives him two weeks to make plans and reservations when...he is summoned by the acting Chief of Police in a another town for assistance.
V.V.'s assistance is needed for a crime that has not yet been commited and it may be a crime against a child. Enter the reason of "impotency" in the chief Inspector's career and the heaviness that envelopes this story.

This heaviness brings the reader to one of the main reasons for the Chief Inspectors depression...and that is the murder of a child. And so we begin this story. The impotence the Chief Inspector experiences when the first child is discovered gives the reader insight into the hard world of a police detective's life.
"Impotence" is the key word for Van Veeteren as well as his entourage from his own department. It appears they all feel this same emotion as we hear their frustration in barking out curses during day to day conversations. The murders continue and V.V. is still not clear on any of the clues that he does not appear to be finding.
Their main suspect was Oscar Yellinek, the missing priest. The cult he founded and his devious and cunning ways with the young girls were repulsive to V.V. As they should be. Oscar was a predator of the worst sort. But was he responsible for the horrific crimes. The crime of destroying an innocents' childhood. Unforgivable according to V.V.
The last several chapters picked up the pace as V.V. and his entourage (Reinhart, Jung,Kluuge)race to prevent another murder.
As usual with all the Van Veeteren books-I couldn't put this book down. Excellent read, although, reader be warned it is quite heavy as it is in reality for police officers of this caliber.
Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Scout.
220 reviews40 followers
November 12, 2011
I wouldn't recommend it. I usually stop reading when I'm not enjoying a book, but I did finish this one. I found the characters dull and the plot uninspiring. The most interesting aspect was the inspector's conflict about retirement.
Profile Image for Jan Greer.
103 reviews
July 24, 2015
Dreadful reading. Story line was all over again he place. I abhor quasi psychological narrative mixed in with pure conjecture. The only way this book would be any good is if it was used to start a fire
Profile Image for Sharron.
2,070 reviews
April 2, 2015
I don't like Van Veeteren quite as much as I liked Kurt Wallander but, as literary characters go, he's a close second. And now that there will be no more Wallander books, that's no small thing.
Profile Image for Jim.
874 reviews40 followers
November 22, 2022
Hakan Neser is Swedish but his creation Inspector Van Veerten sounds more Dutch, the action takes place somewhere in Northern Europe. A woman reports the disappearance of a girl from a mysterious religious sect summer camp and Chief Inspector Van Veerten is called to investigate. A second girl from the camp is found raped and murdered and public pressure to solve the case is increased. But the sect members are tight-lipped about what happened, hence the title "The Inspector and Silence", Van Veerten is an aesthete (with a passion for Penderecki's Requiem) good at solving puzzles. Partway through the case he goes AWOL following up an obscure lead. My thoughts on who the villain might be were shown to be wrong. A good solid mystery.
Profile Image for Maria João Fernandes.
334 reviews30 followers
February 10, 2017
"There's a time for everything."

A proposta da ex-mulher para passar as duas semanas que dispõe de férias com ela, os filhos adultos e os netos é para o Inspector Van Veeteren um ultraje. Ele prefere usufruir do seu tempo livre sozinho e, por essa razão, faz uma reserva para descansar 15 dias em Creta. É com surpresa e alegria - sentimento que raramente o acompanha - que na agência de viagens encontra Ulrike, mulher de umas das vitimas mortais, do caso por ele resolvido há alguns meses atrás ("A Woman With a Birthmark"), com quem simpatizou no primeiro instante. Coincidência ou destino, ouve-a planear a viagem e reservar alojamento para o mesmo destino por ele escolhido.

E é assim que, pela primeira vez, vemos Van Veeteren de bom humor, extremamente bem disposto, ansioso pela nova fase da sua vida. Desejoso por se reformar, sente-se tentado a tornar-se sócio de uma livraria local (cujo desejo de parceria, do dono actual, está disposto na montra), imaginando uma reforma acolhedora a jogar xadrez e ouvir música clássica. Longe do mundo do crime que só o faz sentir-se deprimido e impotente e do qual apenas quer distância.

Contrariamente, com os 37 graus toda a equipa está mal humorada e sem vontade de trabalhar. As férias aproximam-se e todos desejam que nada grave aconteça nas próximas duas semanas que os impeça de as gozar livremente, como aconteceu há dois anos atrás.

Em contraste com o frio quase insuportável do "A Woman With a Birthmark" está um calor infernal, no final de Julho. Contudo, mesmo sob calor tórrido que atormenta a população, o Inspector continua a jogar badminton com Münster, o seu melhor amigo eternamente paciente e compreensivo. E é tudo um mar de rosas até Van Veeteren ser chamado pelo substituto do chefe polícia, a quem deve um favor, da cidade Sorbinowo. Uma mulher telefonou para a esquadra, disse que uma criança foi assassinada e exigiu uma tomada da acção da policia. Contudo, nenhum corpo foi encontrado.

"A Vida Pura" contra "O Outro Mundo"

A investigação foca-se numa seita religiosa que tem a cargo um grupo de 12 raparigas, que estão no seu campo de férias de verão. O grupo intitula-se "A Vida Pura" (The Pure Life) e é liderado por um homem muito peculiar, que é ajudado por três mulheres. Este líder chega a ser mesmo assustador, causando apenas desdém a Van Veeteren. No contexto da chamada telefónica o Inspector vê-se na obrigação de confrontar o estranho grupo, deparando-se com um problema de maior, que vai persistir ao longo de todo o livro. A falta de comunicação é quase surreal, tanto as crianças como os adultos se recusam a falar com os "de fora", principalmente com a policia.

É então que aparece um corpo. O Inspector vê-se assim inserido numa realidade obscura, pela qual apenas sente aversão. Os sentimentos de frustração e impotência são cada vez maiores, à medida que tenta descobrir o assassino e anseia pelo fim do caso. Por outro lado, Van Veeteren é apenas um consultor na cidade vizinha, e não o encarregado como normalmente acontece, portanto aproveita o que Sorbinowo tem para oferecer: come em bons restaurantes, bebe cervejas em locais agradáveis e aproveita para andar de canoa e reflectir.

Münster e Reinhart não estão presentes fisicamente, mas fazem parte do pensamento de Van Veeteren.O Inspector sente a falta da ajuda dos dois colegas e apercebe-se que nesse sentido sempre foi mimado. Apenas deixou um caso por resolver em toda a sua carreira e a investigação actual parece querer seguir o mesmo caminho. A sua intuição está adormecida, as suas acções e decisões são uma perda de tempo, bem como as informações recolhidas que não podiam ser mais inúteis. Para tornar tudo mais insuportável, Van Veeteren é ateu e o seu cepticismo perante as crenças religiosas torna os acontecimentos ainda mais horríveis e incompreensíveis.

"Reason has an elder sister, never forget that. She's called Intuition."

O Inspector tem o dom para as palavras e a construção complexa dos seus pensamentos torna-os memoráveis e sonantes. É de destacar que nem mesmo Van Veeteren, o próprio autor das suas reflexões privadas, sabe o que significam ou implicam as palavras que lhe surgem na mente. Fica mesmo impressionado com esta sua capacidade única, que não sabe como surgiu. Quanto a Münster é o único que a admira e compreende, o que é possível de compreender, claro. Muitas vezes, esta capacidade criativa leva ao surgimento inevitável de questões pertinentes, que ficam sem resposta e situações embaraçosas, onde domina o silêncio. Van Veeteren é um homem de poucas palavras que muito valoriza a reflexão. E raramente partilha o que lhe vai na mente complexa e muito - mesmo muito - interessante.

Apesar da seriedade do tema retratado, envolto num mistério intenso por Håkan Nesser, o livro é rico em humor, como todos os que lhe antecedem. E, como não podia deixar de ser, o acaso volta a desempenhar um papel fundamental no desfecho. Mais do que profissionalismo e intuição, Van Veeteren joga com os elementos que lhe são dados pela realidade.

"That was precisely what everything boiled down to: dreams."
Profile Image for Karina.
136 reviews2 followers
August 14, 2021
Appreciate his style. Understated. character development, a couple dashes of left curve humor, good story. Found this copy on the used book market. Went to purchase another in the series and was told they are going out of print.
17 reviews1 follower
January 17, 2023
Another great VanVreeten book with his toothpicks and intuition. Crusty old guy is pretty sharp!
Profile Image for Fredrick Danysh.
6,844 reviews158 followers
October 1, 2017
Inspector Van Veeteren is getting ready for vacation and thinking about retirement when he receives a call out to investigate a reported missing girl and a religious cult in a semi-rural area. Soon it becomes a murder investigation.
Profile Image for Laurie.
44 reviews3 followers
May 6, 2017
This was my first reading of this author and I very much liked his writing style. Another reviewer suggested new readers of Nesser NOT start with this book because it's a departure from the other Van Veeteren novels. I'm glad I saw that, because this was a v e r y s l o w read, and I probably wouldn't be interested in trying another because of that. Everything took too long and the ending was over in a flash. Still, I will read another because I very much liked the characters and the understated humor, and the writing was great!
Profile Image for Ray Palen.
1,495 reviews41 followers
January 8, 2012
Hakan Nesser's Swedish-based crime novels rank right up there with the best in the game today (Mankell,Nesbo, etc.). More importantly, his aging Inspector Van Veeteren is a singularly unique character with an astute moral barometer and knack for getting to the heart of evil in his cases.

With THE INSPECTOR AND SILENCE, Van Veeteren runs up against a unique roadblock. When the bodies of two young girls are found they bear one thing in common --- they both are members of the Pure Life commune. Pure Life is led by a messiah-like, hippie figure who has surrounded himself with nothing but female acolytes and has branched out to bringing hordes of young girls into the fold. When Pure Life's leader goes missing, Van Veeteren and his fellow authorities are on the hunt. The largest problem they find is that the members of Pure Life are sworn to silence and are not the least bit threatened by criminal prosecution.

Nesser's novel, originally written in 1997, is still very poignant and hits all the right notes as the tale never becomes predicatable and threatens to unravel on every page that is turned.
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