A Van Veeteren Mystery by Håkan Nesser
Review: Four men, who have been friends for years, collectively win a modest sum in a lottery — about $750 each — and decide to celebrate their good fortune at a local bar. But the next morning, one of them is dead, repeatedly stabbed in the neck and chest and another is missing, in Münster's Case, the sixth mystery in the "Inspector Van Veeteren" series by Håkan Nesser. It was first published in 1998 in Sweden as Münsters fall.
As Inspector Van Veeteren nears retirement, cases that would normally be assigned to him are now being handled by his associates. This particular investigation falls to Intendent Münster. It is while seeking statements from those that knew the victim, Waldemar Leverkuhn, that he and his team learn that Felix Bonger has disappeared, the houseboat on which he resides looking lived in, but vacant. Complicating matters further is that a neighbor of Leverkuhn has also vanished, Else Van Eck, a large woman the police are certain would have been seen coming and going, and yet no one can recall seeing her after the evening of the murder. The investigation seems to be at a standstill when Leverkuhn's wife of fifty years, Marie-Louise, suddenly confesses to the murder. She claims no knowledge of the missing Bonger and Fru Van Eck, which begs the question, where are they?
Though subtitled "An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery", this is really, as the title suggests, Intendent Münster's case. When Münster and Van Veeteren are discussing the investigation, Münster says, "Leverhuhn, Bonger, and Fru Van Eck. I've been thinking about it, and there seems to be just enough that links them together to suggest that their fates were connected — but yet not enough to suggest a motive." Which is a good summary of what happens during the first half of this book … that is, not much. The case is interesting on its own merits, but the investigation moves along very slowly and very methodically, with little of substance happening — or even being revealed — over this lengthy stretch. Marie-Louise Leverkuhn doesn't confess until well into the second half of the book, at which point the narrative abruptly and unexpectedly shifts … and in a good way. Suffice it to say that the latter chapters in Münster's Case are riveting and well worth the pathway taken to get there. Still, it's a little unfortunate that the pace of the early chapters — indeed, the first half — of this book is so slow as to test the reader's patience.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of Münster's Case for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Inspector and Silence
Pantheon (Hardcover), June 2011
ISBN-13: 9780375425233; ISBN-10: 0375425233
Location(s) referenced in Münster's Case: Sweden
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Münster's Case by Håkan Nesser — A Van Veeteren Mystery
Publication Date: August 2012
List Price: $25.95