I had never heard of Håkan Nesser. Nor had I heard of the “Inspector Van Veeteren” series. I picked Hour of the Wolf from a list I found on the internet.
A teenage boy is walking home after a visit with his girlfriend. He’s killed by a drunk driver. The driver leaves the boy’s body by the side of the road and drives home. Days pass, and, apparently, no one witnessed the accident. The news reports that no one knows who killed the boy found by the side of the road. The driver doesn’t see what good turning himself in would do, so he doesn’t.
I began to wonder if I’d picked out the wrong book for the “murder mystery” category.
Then the driver receives a blackmail note, and things get complicated. Soon, the Maardam police are involved in a murder investigation.
The police give their investigation top priority once they discover that the murder victim has close ties to the legendary (retired) Chief Inspector Van Veeteran.
The Maardam police spend days going over the few clues they have, forming theories but not coming up with anything substantial. The main question is, of course: Who is the murderer? But also: What possible connection could the murder victim have to the second murder victim found later, aside from the identical method of killing?
Inspector Van Veeteran isn’t directly involved in the investigation, but steps in to help his former colleagues solve this personal case.
The murderer, meanwhile, is doing his own amateur investigation, trying to uncover the identity of the blackmailer.
Hour of the Wolf is an entertaining story of details, clues, and methodical police work. For being “an Inspector Van Veeteran mystery”, Van Veeteran didn’t seem to play a big role in the story. It really should have been called “an Inspector Reinhart mystery”. (Was this originally another story, with Van Veeteran added in later? Or is this a sort of “next generation” book? I don’t know.)
Hour of the Wolf is the seventh book (I think) in the “Inspector Van Veeteran” series. I had no trouble jumping into it without knowing anything about the characters or the previous stories. It is a self-contained story.
Hour of the Wolf: An Inspector Van Veeteran Mystery, by Håkan Nesser, was published in 1999 under the name Carambole. The English translation, by Laurie Thompson, was published in 2012.
Ordinarily, I stop doing internet research while I’m reading a book. I want the opinions I post to be my own. I made an exception with Hour of the Wolf. Curiosity got the better of me. Where is Maardam? Håkan Nesser is Swedish, so I assumed Maardam is, too. The name sounds Dutch to me, however. (And so does Van Veeteran.) I learned that Maardam doesn’t exist outside of the Inspector Van Veeteran books. Håkan Nesser made it up. Maardam is said to be located in an unnamed northern European country. The names of places and characters are a mix of German, Dutch, Spanish, and Swedish. I think that’s cool. Maardam, as described in the book, certainly feels like a real place.
- A murder mystery