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The Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser

Teacher Janek Mitter woke up one morning with a hangover and discovered his wife, Eva Ringmar, of three months lying facedown in the bath tub, dead.

Even during the court trial Mitter has no recollection of what happened from the moment he passed out till he woke up. He is found guilty of a drunken crime of passion and imprisoned in a mental institution. He remembers the last person he saw that night when he is at the asylum. He scribbles the name of the murderer and put it in his Bible, but was murdered before the information can be uncovered.

Based on intuition, Detective Van Veeteren launches a full-scale investigation of the two murders and hunt down the murderer. Detective VV did this by delegating the tasks to his subordinates Reinhart and Munster to interview all the teachers from the school, trace the delivery schedule of a letter that Mitter sent from his asylum to the school.

Inspector Van Veerten, acts on a hunch and realise realises that the only way he can solve the crime is by digging back into the victim’s past to uncover the motive behind the sordid violence. Uncovering Eva’s past was very intriguing, as her ex-husband, her childhood friends and colleagues gave an account of major incidents that had happened and a snippet into Eva’s past life, shrouding Eva’s life with mysteries upon mysteries. I thought this was handled very well.

I love the court scenes at the beginning. For a crime as morbid as this the book still incites a few chuckles from me. What is it that I love about Scandinavian crime as opposed to the rest? I read only one other book by Håkan Nesser The Woman with the Birthmark.

and I must say I simply love a good, simple well-told story that has its origins in the past, a feud unsettled, a revenge that needs to come to pass. The Mind’s Eye was very reflective, atmospheric and introspective. I like the way I am able to get into the heads of each character and feel what they feel.  The clues were concealed up to the very end and I have no inkling nor develop any hunch as to who the murderer could be, not right until the very end.

Inspector Van Veeteren is quite a character. In this first book he is more philosophical and he seems to speak in riddle.

‘Anyway, if there have to be plots and connecting threads ensuring that stuffed life, the artificial version , hangs together, then of course the same thing must apply to the genuine article, to real life. That’s the point.’

‘The point?’ asked Munster.

‘Yes, the point. Obviously, you can choose to live a pointless life if you want to – watch a film backwards, or hold the book upside down as you read it. But don’t kid yourself that, if you do, you’ve understood anything. You see, there’s not just one, but thousands of points, whole series of points… patterns… rules… determinants.’ – page 255

Yes, that’s my kind of Inspector.

Translator Laurie Thompson name became endear to me whenever I see her name on Henning Mankell or Åsa Larrson’s books. I feel I am in good hands and it was as if she wrote the book rather than the real authors. A feat I was impressed with when I read the Woman with the Birthmark.

In comparison to Nesser other books, I didn’t enjoy this as much as The Woman with the Birthmark. Perhaps I was distracted in between car journeys while I was travelling. This book won Nessser the 1993 Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Prize for new authors (published in Sweden as The Wide-Mesh Net). I’ll be moving on to Borkmann’s Point, the next book in the Inspector Van Veeteren series, to savour the slow plot and expectation of a rich introspective and reflection of Inspector Van Veeteren and his suspects.


I’m reading this for Scandinavian and Mystery and Suspense Challenge.

Paperback. Length: 306 pages. Publisher: Pan Books 2009. Source: London Westminster Library. Setting: Sweden. Finished reading at: 2nd November 2011. Translated brilliantly from Laurie Thompson from Swedish.

Other views:

Maxine@Petrona and Eurocrime: Scandinavian crime fiction as a genre seems to excel at the good, simple story, well-told and with classical underpinnings, echoing ancient tragedies and sagas. THE MIND’S EYE is no exception. I was absorbed from start to finish, and cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Bernadette @ Reactions to Reading: By reputation Scandinavians are cold and dour but, if their crime fiction is anything to go by, this is as untrue a stereotype as any other because this book really is very funny.

CSI Librarian: In conclusion, I would say the writing, the reading, and the characters were terrific, but the plot was pretty much the stuff of short stories. However, this was not bad for a first book in a series and definitely provided a very, very satisfying introduction to a fascinating character. If you enjoy Simon Vance’s voice work, you will love this. If you enjoy mysteries where the case is of little consequence compared to characterization and moody insights, you should definitely give Mind’s Eye a shot.


About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


12 thoughts on “The Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser

  1. I much prefer Scandinavian crime fiction over any other kind. My co-worker agrees with me and says that there is a different sensibility to them that we don’t get in American books.

    Posted by Ti | November 10, 2011, 9:28 pm
  2. Ti,
    Yes! Yes! Yes..! that was the word that I was looking for Ti. sensibility, absolutely spot-on! that was what drew me to Scandi crime as well. Thanks! 🙂

    Posted by JoV | November 10, 2011, 9:37 pm
  3. Wow you’ve had a bit of a Scandinavian fest while you were away 🙂

    Posted by jessicabookworm | November 11, 2011, 1:11 pm
  4. Ahh Scandinavian crime! Still haven’t had the guts to give it a try. I like my crime cosy or extremely disturbing and dark but with satire (Am Psycho) 😀

    Posted by Bina | November 16, 2011, 9:46 pm


  1. Pingback: It’s wrap-up (although a little late!): October and November 2011 « Bibliojunkie - December 7, 2011

  2. Pingback: Hour of the Wolf by Håkan Nesser « JoV's Book Pyramid - January 2, 2013

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

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The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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