A 16 year old boy on his way home from his girlfriend on a dark rainy night is run down by a drunk driver. The driver sees the boy is dead and leaves the scene of the accident and wiping the incident from his mind. But a few days later he receives a letter that makes it clear he was seen and demands money in exchange for silence. The driver goes to a prearranged bar with the money in a plastic bag ,and puts it in a rubbish bin to be collected by the blackmailer. He waits until the bag is picked up and then outside in the car park kills the blackmailer with a metal bar. But then he gets another letter demanding more money and realises he has made a terrible mistake.
I won’t divulge any more of the plot as this is a book where the reader knows more than the police, and a lot of the reading pleasure is seeing how the detectives uncover the information with a mixture of solid police work, and sheer intuition. This time the investigative team is lead by Chief Inspector Rheinhart, with Rooth, Jung and Ewa Moreno as the main assistants; but with the retired Chief Inspector Van Veeteren personally involved it is no surprise that he plays a big part in solving the case.
‘Can I offer you a beer?’ asked Rooth a quarter of an hour later. ‘I promise not to rape you or to make advances.’
Ewa Moreno smiled……’Sounds tempting,’ she said. But I have a date with my bath-tub and a third rate novel-I’m afraid it’s binding.’
The story is told from several points of view, in the early part of the book mostly from the perpetrator, and at the end from the pursuing detectives. It is a darker, sadder story than some of the earlier books, but still retains the sharp dialogue and acerbic wit that makes this series such a pleasure to read. The reader is taken into the personal lives of the detectives, and after seven books they have become almost friends, and we experience their emotions and traumas. The sign of a wonderful writer and yet another fine translation by Laurie Thompson. I am sometimes put off by books which concentrate on the amoral perpetrator, with the police plodding along one or two steps behind, but this one managed to keep me glued to the page.
‘:if somebody shoots the Minister of Home Affairs or somebody rapes the Pope, those cases are mothballed until we’ve solved this one. Is that clear? Have you understood? Does anybody object? In which case he or she had better apply for a move to somewhere else without more ado! Fuck, fuck, fuck! Off the record, that is.’
This novel was originally published in 1999 and won the Nordic Glass Key in 2000. The Swedish title Carambole refers to billiard balls hitting each other and producing a reaction on the other balls. This story tells what happens when one event produces a whole chain reaction with results that are unforeseen. I think it is a more relevant title than Hour of the Wolf. But under whatever title this is a wonderful read, and another fine police procedural featuring an ensemble cast from Hakan Nesser.
I will be waiting very impatiently for the next Van Veeteren.
Thanks to Maxine of Petrona for sending me her ARC.