A Swedish crime thriller, inasmuch as it was written by a Swedish writer. The action takes place in some imaginary backwoods in an unspecified part of Northern Europe. The Chief Inspector Van Veeteren (sounds more Dutch than Swedish) has to go into hospital for a serious operation to remove part of his large intestine, he has cancer. The hospital stay gives him a chance to ruminate on what seems to be an almost perfect crime. A body has been discovered by a schoolchild in the woods. The victim it transpires is Leopold Verhaven, a notorious character who had been a disgraced track star before being found guilty twice of murder. The return of the title is the victim’s return from prison, as he is killed very soon after his release.The victim was an unusual character, very much a loner, who stoically spent 24 years behind bars for two murders he claimed he hadn’t committed. Studying the trial transcripts and press cuttings Van Veeteren concludes that the evidence against Verhaven was thin and circumstantial.
My main criticism of the book is that it told the story of how the mystery was solved without really involving the reader in solving along the way. Van Veeteren is an interesting character as is the victim Verhaven.
My rating 4 out of 5