Book reviews


Clearly, the carving knife on the cover of Munster’s Case by Hakan Nesser is a clue to something that happens in this story. Crime isn’t usually my first choice of reading genre, but since I just love the name Munster, I couldn’t go past this book.

The author is Swedish and the book was translated into English by Laurie Thompson. Some of the words and phrases used were awkward and clunky, and I expect this book would have been better in the original. There was a lot of swearing and crude language used too, and again, I’m giving this author the benefit of the doubt in suspecting that the language may have been milder before being translated into English.

This book is part of a series featuring Inspector Van Veeteren, however the great man is on extended leave, leaving Intendent Munster to get on with the job in this story.

The first sentence of Munster’s Case is intriguing;

“The last day of Waldemar Leverkuhn’s life could hardly have begun any better.”

72 year old Waldemar Leverkuhn had the extraordinary luck on his last day on earth to learn that along with three friends, he had won a significant amount of money in a lottery. He went out to celebrate with his friends without telling his wife that he had won the lottery, stumbled in about 1am, hopped into bed and woke up dead, having been stabbed 28 times while he slept. Leverkuhn’s wife, who is 69 years old, was out with a friend that same night and didn’t get home until about 2am.

This brings me to the first point in the story that annoyed me. How many people in their 70’s are regularly out at night until well after midnight? Maybe some are, but I don’t know any.

Intendent Munster and his co-workers become involved in the investigation and learn that on the same night that Leverkuhn was murdered, one of the other men who won the lottery with him also went missing. Soon after, another neighbour of Leverkuhn’s goes missing too. Red herrings everywhere!

Leverkuhn’s wife unexpectedly confesses to killing her husband but Intendent Munster isn’t convinced of her guilt, so he seeks the advice of Inspector Van Veeteren who also has doubts about what actually happened to the victim.

Not surprisingly, considering the type of work they do, Intendent Munster and his workmates are a jaded group of characters. They are almost universally disliked and looked upon with suspicion, despite their aim to simply learn the truth in the matters they are investigating.

The author gives away a big clue early in the story about who the murder is, but the reasons why the murderer acts were unknown to me until the author told me in the last few chapters of the book. As is often the case, the reasons why the murderer in this story acted are nasty.

Intendent Munster has a lovely wife, Synn, but he has a thing for his co-worker, Ewa Moreno. This book is titled Munster’s Fall in other countries, and references to previous stories make me think that falling in love with his female colleagues is a habit with him. Suddenly, I don’t like him as much anymore…

I probably won’t go out of my way to read any more books by Hakan Nesser, with or without Intendent Munster, but only because crime isn’t my first love.




Comments on: "Munster’s Case by Hakan Nesser" (2)

  1. I find the translations are often clunky with these Nordic crime novels which always surprises me, since when I watch TV shows from those countries the language always sounds very similar in structure and even some words to English – so much so I often find I can understand a little of what they’re saying even though I don’t know any of the languages. But Nordic crime books do tend to be more grim and… I think the word I’m looking for is unpleasant… than I generally prefer.

    • Grim and unpleasant are suitable words for both the actual crimes depicted and the ambience of all of the novels I’ve read from this part of the world. I’ve never watched any Nordic television or films but two of my favourite rockabilly bands are Swedish.
      Their songs are brilliant and the band member’s accents are cute, even when they say outrageous things!

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