03 September 2009

Swedish Zen

I was at the Amery library on Thursday last week trying to get some writing done. I learned the hard way that Thursday is the day the library closes at 2:00pm. Well, I did get all but one of my online tasks done before closing. (I felt like I was in British pub. "We're closing in 15 minutes" It reminded me of a line from a T. S. Eliot poem, The Wasteland, "Hurry up please. It's time.")

On my way out, I pulled out my list of best Swedish mysteries and headed for the shelves. Håkan Nesser's [right] book, The Mind's Eye, was number one on the list. I didn't find that one, but I found Nesser's Borkmann's Point. I figured it was worth a try, so I checked it out as I left.

Nesser's featured character is Inspector Van Veeteren. Swedish, eh? I'd say Van Veerteren is a zen detective. He asks a few questions, listens to what others find out, reads a few reports, and waits for enlightenment. Strangely, his reputation is such that the people he works with accept his meditative investigation style and are willing to wait for the guru to speak.

There's some police procedural stuff in this book, but there's almost as much chess. Nesser is quite good at creating and describing characters, but there's virtually no action -- outside of his descriptions of very brief violence.

It was as exciting as a Swedish hot sauce. I finished the book because I was curious about the plot and about whether the story telling was every going to get off the ground.

I wonder if The Mind's Eye is different. I think I'll look up a review before I try reading it. I did find out that in Nesser's The Return, Van Veeteren solves the mystery while in a hospital bed. How much action can there be in that?

The Van Veerteren stories have been made into Swedish television programs. I guess the winters are long in Scandinavia.

Any of you out there read The Mind's Eye or Borkmann's Point? What did you think?

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