Thursday, 1 March 2012

Borkmann's Point

Title: Borkmann’s Point

Author: Hakan Nesser

Number of pages: 321

Started: 25 February 2012

Finished: 1 March 2012

Opening words:

Had Ernst Simmel known he was to be the Axman's second victim, he would no doubt have downed a few more drinks at The Blue Ship.

As it was, he settled for a brandy with his coffee and a whiskey on the rocks in the bar, while trying unsuccessfully to make eye contact with the bleached-blond woman in the far corner; but anyway, his heart wasn't in it. Presumably, she was one of the new employees at the canning factory. He had never seen her before, and he had a fair idea about the available talent.

To his right was Herman Schalke, a reporter on de Journaal, trying to interest him in a cheap weekend trip to Kaliningrad or somewhere of the sort, and when they eventually got round to pinning down his last evening, it seemed probable that Schalke must have been the last person in this life to speak to Simmel.

Always assuming that the Axman didn't have some message to impart before finishing him off, that is. Which wasn't all that likely since the blow, as in the previous case, had come diagonally from behind and from slightly below, so a little chat seemed improbable.

Read a longer extract here.

Plot summary:

Borkmann’s rule was hardly a rule; in fact, it was more of a comment, a landmark for tricky cases . . . In every investigation, he maintained, there comes a point beyond which we don’t really need any more information. When we reach that point, we already know enough to solve the case by means of nothing more than some decent thinking. Two men are brutally murdered with an axe in the quiet coastal town of Kaalbringen and Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, bored on holiday nearby, is summoned to assist the local authorities. The local police chief, just days away from retirement, is determined to wrap things up before he goes. But there is no clear link between the victims. Then one of Van Veeteren’s colleagues, a brilliant young female detective, goes missing – perhaps she has reached Borkmann’s Point before anyone else . . .

What I thought:

I was intrigued by the idea behind the title of this book and so was looking forward to reading it. Somehow it didn’t quite live up to expectations, although it wasn’t a bad read. I thought that the Van Veeteren character had no sense of urgency about him. When there was a possible breakthrough in the case, he always had more urgent things to deal with, such as getting his car fixed so that he didn’t leave his stereo unattended. Whilst this would be seen as a quirky side to the novel, I thought it detracted from the sense of tension that could otherwise have been built.

I would give another of his books ago – and much to my annoyance, I have subsequently found that this was not actually the first in the series (although the first translated into English). I will now read the novel that is prior to this one to see how that sets up the series.

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