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9781400030323

Borkmann's Point: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery [2]

Hakan Nesser Author

9781400030323: Borkmann's Point: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery [2]

International Bestseller 

Internationally bestselling author Häkan Nesser makes his U.S. debut with this riveting tale of murder and suspense that reveals the deep humanity of the characters portrayed even as it sends chills up the spine.

 

Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is called to the sleepy coastal town of Kalbringen to assist the local police in the investigation of two recent ax murders. Soon the case turns from bad to worse when another body turns up and one of Van Veeteren’s colleagues, a young female detective, disappears without a trace. Now Van Veeteren must find the killer, and, it is hoped, his colleague, before anyone else comes to harm. Riveting and intellectually satisfying, Borkmann’s Point unfolds like a chess match where each move could prove deadly.

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About the Author:

Håkan Nesser was born in 1950 in Sweden. In 1993 he was awarded the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Prize for new authors for his novel Mind’s Eye, and is the only author to have won the Academy’s best novel award three times: in 1994 for Borkmann’s Point; in 1996 for Woman With Birthmark; and in 2007 for A Rather Different Story. In 1999 he was awarded the Crime Writers of Scandinavia’s Glass Key Award for the best crime novel of the year for Carambole. His novels have been published to wide acclaim in twenty-five countries.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Had Ernst Simmel known he was to be the Axman's second victim, he would no doubt have downed a few more drinks at The Blue Ship.

As it was, he settled for a brandy with his coffee and a whiskey on the rocks in the bar, while trying unsuccessfully to make eye contact with the bleached-blond woman in the far corner; but anyway, his heart wasn't in it. Presumably, she was one of the new employees at the canning factory. He had never seen her before, and he had a fair idea about the available talent.

To his right was Herman Schalke, a reporter on de Journaal, trying to interest him in a cheap weekend trip to Kaliningrad or somewhere of the sort, and when they eventually got round to pinning down his last evening, it seemed probable that Schalke must have been the last person in this life to speak to Simmel.

Always assuming that the Axman didn't have some message to impart before finishing him off, that is. Which wasn't all that likely since the blow, as in the previous case, had come diagonally from behind and from slightly below, so a little chat seemed improbable.

"Ah, well!" Simmel had said after draining the last drops from his glass. "I'd better be getting back to the old lady."

If Schalke remembered rightly, that is. In any case, he'd tried to talk him out of it. Pointed out that it was barely eleven and the night was yet young. But Simmel had been adamant.

That was the right word. Adamant. Just eased himself off his bar stool. Adjusted his glasses and stroked that pathetic wisp of hair over his bald head like he always did--as if that would fool anybody--muttered a few words, then left. The last Schalke had seen of him was the white outline of his back as he paused in the doorway and seemed to be hesitating about which direction to take.

Looking back, that was distinctly odd. For Christ's sake, surely Simmel knew his way home?

But maybe he just stood there for a few seconds to fill his lungs with the fresh night air. It had been a hot day; summer was not over yet and the evenings had started to exude a mellowness enriched by many months of summer sun. Enriched and refined.

As if made for drinking in deep draughts, somebody had said. These nights.

In fact, it wasn't a bad night for a journey to the other side, if one might be allowed such a thought. Schalke's section of de Journaal was mainly concerned with matters sporting and a dash of folklore, but in his capacity as the last person to have seen Simmel alive, he had presumed to write an obituary of the property developer who had been so suddenly plucked from our midst . . . a pillar of our society, one might say, who had just returned to his native town after a sojourn of several years abroad (on the Costa del Sol along with other like-minded citizens with a bent for effective tax planning, but perhaps this was not the occasion to refer to that), survived by a wife and two grown-up children, having reached the age of fifty but still in the prime of his life, no doubt about that.

The scent of evening seemed full of promise; he paused in the doorway, hesitating.

Would it be a good idea to take a stroll over to Fisherman's Square and down by the harbor?

What was the point of going home as early as this? The sweetish smell of the bedroom and Grete's overweight body shot through his mind, and he decided to take a little walk. Only a short one. Even if there was nothing to pick up, the warm night air would make it worth the effort.

He crossed over Langvej and turned off toward Bungeskirke. At the same time, the murderer emerged from the shadows under the lime trees in Leisner Park and started following him. Quietly and carefully, a safe distance behind, not a sound from his rubber soles. Tonight was his third attempt, but even so, there was no trace of impatience. He knew what he had to do, and the last thing on his mind was to rush things.

Simmel continued along Hoistraat and took the steps down toward the harbor. He slowed down when he came to Fisherman's Square and sauntered across the deserted cobbles toward the covered market. Two women were busy talking at the corner of Dooms Alley, but he didn't appear to pay them any attention. Perhaps he wasn't sure about their status, or perhaps he had something else in mind.

Or maybe he just didn't feel like it. When he came to the quay he paused for a few minutes to smoke a cigarette, watching the boats bobbing in the marina. The murderer took the opportunity of enjoying a cigarette himself in the shadow of the warehouse on the other side of the Esplanade. Held it well hidden inside his cupped hand so that the glow wouldn't give him away, and didn't take his eyes off his victim for a single second.

When Simmel flicked his cigarette end into the water and set off in the direction of the municipal woods, the murderer knew that tonight was the night.

True, there were only about three hundred yards of trees here between the Esplanade and Rikken, the yuppie part of the town where Simmel lived, and there were plenty of lights along the paths; but not all were working and three hundred yards could prove to be rather a long way. In any case, when Simmel heard a faint footstep behind him, he was barely fifty yards into the woods and the darkness was dense on all sides.

Warm and full of promise, as already noted, but dense.

He probably didn't have time to feel scared. If so, it could only have been in the last fraction of a second. The razor-sharp edge entered from behind, between the second and fourth vertebrae, slicing diagonally through the third, straight through the spinal column, the esophagus and the carotid artery. Half an inch deeper and in all probability his head would have been separated completely from his body.

Which would have been spectacular, but was of minor significance for the outcome.

In accordance with all imaginable criteria, Ernst Simmel must have been dead even before he hit the ground. His face landed on the well-trodden gravel path with full force, smashing his glasses and causing any number of secondary injuries. Blood was pouring out of his throat, from above and below, and when the murderer carefully dragged him into the bushes, he could still hear a faint bubbling sound. He squatted there in silence while a group of four or five youths passed by, then wiped his weapon clean in the grass and set off back in the direction of the harbor.

Twenty minutes later he was sitting at his kitchen table with a steaming cup of tea, listening to the bath slowly filling up. If his wife had still been with him, she would doubtless have asked if he'd had a hard day, and if he was very tired.

Not especially, he might have replied. It's taking a bit of time, but everything is going according to plan.

Glad to hear it, darling, she might have said, putting a hand on his shoulder. Glad to hear it . . .

He nodded, and raised his cup to his mouth.



2

The sands went on forever.

Went on forever, the same as ever. A calm, gray sea under a pale sky. A strip of firm, damp sand next to the water where he could maintain a reasonable pace. Alongside a drier, grayish-white expanse where beach grass and windswept bushes took over. Deep inside the salt marshes birds were wheeling in broad, lazy circles, filling the air with their melancholy cries.

Van Veeteren checked his watch and paused. Hesitated for a moment. In the hazy distance he could just make out the church steeple in s'Greijvin, but it was a long way away. If he kept on walking, it would certainly be another hour before he could sit down with a beer in the cafe on the square.

It might have been worth the effort, but now that he had paused, it was hard to convince himself of that. It was three o'clock. He had set out after lunch--or brunch, depending on how you looked at it. In any case, at about one o'clock, after yet another night when he had gone to bed early but failed to drop off to sleep until well into the small hours. It was hard to tell what was the root cause of his worries and restlessness as he lay there, tossing and turning in the sagging double bed, as the gray light of dawn crept ever closer . . . hard to tell.

He had been on vacation for three weeks now, quite a long time by his standards, but not exceptional, and as the days passed, during the last week at least, his daily routine had been delayed just a little. Four more days and it would be time for him to return to his office, and he had the distinct impression that when he did so, there would not be much of a spring in his stride. Even though he hadn't really done much apart from resting. Lain back on the beach, reading. Sat in the cafe at s'Greijvin, or nearer at hand in Hellensraut. Strolled up and down these never-ending sands.

The first week out here with Erich had been a mistake. They had both realized that after the first day, but the arrangement couldn't easily be changed. Erich had been allowed out on parole on condition that he stay with his father on this remote stretch of coast. He still had ten months of his sentence left to serve, and the last time he had been out on parole the outcome had left much to be desired.

He gazed out to sea. It was just as calm and unfathomable as it had been for the whole of this last week. As if nothing could really make an impression, not even the wind. The waves dying a natural death on the beach seemed to have traveled vast distances bearing neither life nor hope.

This is not my sea, Van Veeteren thought to himself.

In July, as his vacation had approached, he had been looking forward to these days with Erich. When they finally arrived...

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Book Description Vintage. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 1400030323 When an ex-convict and then a wealthy real-estate tycoon fall victim to a violent attack by a possible ax-murderer, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is called in to assist with the local investigation, a probe that becomes complicated by yet another murder and the disappearance of a promising female detective who may have gotten too close to the truth. Reprint. Bookseller Inventory # 4120856

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 201 x 130 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. International Bestseller Internationally bestselling author Hakan Nesser makes his U.S. debut with this riveting tale of murder and suspense that reveals the deep humanity of the characters portrayed even as it sends chills up the spine. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is called to the sleepy coastal town of Kalbringen to assist the local police in the investigation of two recent ax murders. Soon the case turns from bad to worse when another body turns up and one of Van Veeteren s colleagues, a young female detective, disappears without a trace. Now Van Veeteren must find the killer, and, it is hoped, his colleague, before anyone else comes to harm. Riveting and intellectually satisfying, Borkmann s Point unfolds like a chess match where each move could prove deadly. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781400030323

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 201 x 130 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. International Bestseller Internationally bestselling author Hakan Nesser makes his U.S. debut with this riveting tale of murder and suspense that reveals the deep humanity of the characters portrayed even as it sends chills up the spine. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is called to the sleepy coastal town of Kalbringen to assist the local police in the investigation of two recent ax murders. Soon the case turns from bad to worse when another body turns up and one of Van Veeteren s colleagues, a young female detective, disappears without a trace. Now Van Veeteren must find the killer, and, it is hoped, his colleague, before anyone else comes to harm. Riveting and intellectually satisfying, Borkmann s Point unfolds like a chess match where each move could prove deadly. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781400030323

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