Håkan Nesser was a Swedish teacher until 1998 when he became a full-time author. Today, he is an award-winning best-selling author of crime fiction whose books have been translated from Swedish into more than twenty languages.
He found success with his Inspector Van Veeteren Series about a detective (and later the owner of an antique bookshop) who investigated murder mysteries in a fictitious city called Maardam. Now, he also writes the Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti, a Swedish police inspector of Italian descent.
How to read Hakan Nesser’s Books in Order?
The Inspector Van Veeteren Series (In Chronological Order)
- The Mind’s Eye (2008) – Janek Mitter stumbles into his bathroom one morning after a night of heavy drinking, to find his beautiful young wife, Eva, floating dead in the bath. She has been brutally murdered. Yet even during his trial Mitter cannot summon a single memory of attacking Eva, nor a clue as to who could have killed her if he had not. Only once he has been convicted and locked away in an asylum for the criminally insane does he have a snatch of insight – but is it too late?
- Borkmann’s Point (2006) – Two men are brutally murdered with an axe in the quiet coastal town of Kaalbringen and Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, bored on holiday nearby, is summoned to assist the local authorities. The local police chief, just days away from retirement, is determined to wrap things up before he goes. But there is no clear link between the victims. Then one of Van Veeteren’s colleagues, a brilliant young female detective, goes missing – perhaps she has reached Borkmann’s Point before anyone else . . .
- The Return (2007) – An unmissable hospital appointment is looming for Inspector Van Veeteren when a corpse is found rolled in a rotting carpet by a young child playing in a local beauty spot. Missing head and limbs, the torso is too badly decomposed for forensic identification – bar one crucial detail . . . Circumstantial evidence soon points to a local man, a double murderer who disappeared nine months before, shortly after being released on parole; a local hero turned monster after being convicted of killing two women over a span of three decades.
- Woman with Birthmark (2009) – A young woman shivers in the December cold as her mother’s body is laid to rest in a cemetery. The only thing that warms her is the thought of the revenge she will soon take . . . Then a middle-aged man is killed at his home, shot twice in the chest and twice below the belt. He had recently received a series of bizarre phone calls where an old song is played down the line – evoking an eerie sense of both familiarity and unease. Before the police can find the culprit, a second man is killed in the same way.
- The Inspector and Silence (2010) – In the heart of summer, the country swelters in a fog of heat. In the beautiful forested lake town of Sorbinowo, Sergeant Merwin Kluuge’s tranquil existence is shattered when he receives a phone call from an anonymous woman. She tells him that a girl has gone missing from the summer camp of the mysterious The Pure Life, a religious sect buried deep in the woods. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is recruited to help solve the mystery.
- The Unlucky Lottery (aka Munster’s Case, 2011) – Four friends celebrate winning the lottery. Just hours later, one of them – Waldemar Leverkuhn – is found in his home, stabbed to death. With Chief Inspector Van Veeteren on sabbatical, working in a second-hand bookshop, the case is assigned to Inspector Münster. But when another member of the lottery group disappears, as well as Leverkuhn’s neighbor, Münster appeals to Van Veeteren for assistance.
- Hour of the Wolf (2012) – In the dead of night, in the pouring rain, a drunk driver smashes his car into a young man. He abandons the body at the side of the road, but the incident will set in motion a chain of events that will change his life forever. Soon Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, now retired from the Maardam police force, will face his greatest trial yet as someone close to him is, inexplicably, murdered.
- The Weeping Girl (2013) – A community is left reeling after a teacher – Arnold Maager – is convicted of murdering his female pupil Winnie Maas. It seems the girl had been pregnant with Maager’s child. Years later, on her eighteenth birthday, Maager’s daughter Mikaela finally learns the terrible truth about her father. Desperate for answers, Mikaela travels to the institution at Lejnice, where Maager has been held since his trial. But soon afterward she inexplicably vanishes. Detective Inspector Ewa Moreno from the Maardam Police is on holiday in the area when she finds herself drawn into the case of Mikaela’s disappearance.
- The Strangler’s Honeymoon (2013) – Desperately lonely, sixteen-year-old Monica Kammerle has little idea of what she is getting herself into when she begins an affair with her mother’s latest partner; the sophisticated Benjamin Kerran . . . Months later, when a woman’s strangled body is found, the Maardam police must discover who has committed this terrible crime. It isn’t long before they realize the perpetrator may have killed before – and is likely to do so again.
- The G File (2014) – 1987. Verlangan, a former cop turned private detective is hired by a woman to follow her husband Jaan ‘G’ Hennan. A few days later, his client is found dead at the bottom of an empty swimming pool. Maardam police, led by Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, investigate the case. Van Veeteren has encountered Jaan ‘G’ Hennan before and knows only too well the man’s dark capabilities. As more information emerges about G’s shadowy past, the Chief Inspector becomes more desperate than ever to convict him. But G has a solid alibi – and no one else can be found about the crime.
The Gunnar Barbarotti Series in Order
- The Darkest Day (2017) – It’s December in the quiet Swedish town of Kymlinge, and the Hermansson family are gathering to celebrate a big family birthday. But beneath the guise of happy festivities, tensions are running high, and it’s not long before the night takes a dark and unexpected turn . . . Before the weekend is over, two members of the Hermansson family are missing, and it’s up to Inspector Barbarotti to determine exactly what happened on that darkest day, and unravel a web of sinister family secrets in the process . . .
- The Root of Evil (2018) – July 2007. A letter arrives on Inspector Barbarotti’s doorstep detailing a murder that is about to take place in his quiet Swedish town. By the time the police track down the subject of the letter, he is already dead. So when a second letter arrives, then a third, and a fourth, it’s a game of cat and mouse to stop the killer before he can make good on all of his promises.
- The Secret Life of Mr Roos (2020) – At fifty-nine years old, Valdemar Roos is tired of life. Working a job he hates, with a wife he barely talks to and two stepdaughters he doesn’t get on with, and he doesn’t have a lot to look forward to. Then, one day, a winning lottery ticket allows him to start afresh. Without telling a soul, he quits his job and buys a hut in the remote Swedish countryside. Every day he travels down to this man-made oasis, returning each evening to his unsuspecting wife. Life couldn’t be better until a young woman arrives in paradise . . .
- The Lonely Ones (2021) – It begins in 1969. Six young people arrive in Uppsala, Sweden. Different circumstances push the three young couples together and, over a few years, they become friends. But a summer trip through Eastern Europe changes everything, and when their time at Uppsala University is over it also signals the end of something else. Years later, a lecturer at Lund University is found dead at the bottom of a cliff in the woods close to Kymlinge. And chillingly, it is the very same spot where one of the Uppsala students died thirty-five years before.
- The Axe Woman (2022) – Five years previously a shy electrician, Arnold Morinder, disappeared from the face of the earth, the only clue was his blue moped abandoned in a nearby swamp. At the time his partner, Ellen Bjarnebo, claimed that Arnold had probably traveled to Norway never to return. But Ellen is one of Sweden’s most notorious killers, having served eleven years in prison after killing her abusive first husband and dismembering his body with an axe. And when Barbarotti seeks to interview Ellen with Arnold’s disappearance she is nowhere to be found . . .
Other Novels by Hakan Nesser in Order of Publication
- The Living and the Dead in Winsford (2015) – A woman arrives in the village of Winsford on Exmoor. She has traveled a long way and chosen her secluded cottage carefully. Maria’s sole intention is to outlive her beloved dog Castor. And to survive the torrent of memories that threaten to overwhelm her. As Maria settles into her lonely new life, walking the wild, desolate moors, it becomes clear that Winsford isn’t quite the sanctuary she thought it would be. While the long, dark evenings close in and the weather worsens, strange things begin to happen around her. But what terrible secrets is Maria guarding? And who is trying to find her?
- The Summer of Kim Novak (2015) – Sweden in the ’60s. Erik and his friend Edmund spend their vacation by a forest lake daydreaming about Ewa, a young substitute teacher with an uncanny resemblance to the actress Kim Novak. The boys are having the time of their lives until a shocking discovery disrupts their world. Twenty-five years later, Erik comes across a newspaper article about unsolved crimes and is overwhelmed by memories and questions from that summer of his youth. What actually happened back then?
- Norton’s Philosophical Memoirs (non-fiction, 2018) – When I was about two months old I was adopted. Two long-legged humans, a man and a woman, came and picked me up, loaded me in a car and drove into town. This is the story of the eleven years we spent together.
- Intrigo (2019) – A collection of Håkan Nesser’s best novellas and short stories. Set in the fictional city of Maardam, each story is linked by themes of secrets coming to light, lies being exposed, and pasts coming back to haunt the people who thought they had fled them – all told in Håkan Nesser’s signature style of dark, cutting prose that displays a true understanding of human nature.
Don’t forget to bookmark this article to be sure not to miss anything new from Håkan Nesser. If you like Hakan Nesser, you can check out our reading orders for Ragnar Jónasson’s books or Camilla Lackberg’s books.