Gunnar Barbarotti locks his door grabs his suitcase and is heading off for his holiday in Gotland with Marianne when he is interrupted by the postman. In his haste he just collects the three letters and is on his way. Later when he is at Marianne’s house, he notices the letters that he stuffed in the outside pocket of his suitcase. Two of them are just bills, but one of them has his name and address scrawled on the front of the envelope and is handwritten. He opens the letter to find a disturbing message,
GOING TO KILL ERIK BERGMAN LET’S SEE IF YOU CAN STOP ME.
Barbarotti is baffled, he cannot seem to remember an Erik Bergman. Perhaps the letter is just a hoax or fake, it would not be the first. Marianne insists that Barbarotti takes the letter seriously, and if he is honest, just wanting to enjoy his holiday, he wishes he had never opened it.
He calls the station and notifies them about the letter and thinks that that will be the last of it.
However, the next day, Eva Backman, his partner, returns his call notifying him that an Erick Bergman has indeed been murdered. And just like that Barbarotti knows his holiday is over.
Upon returning to his house, another letter awaits him. Same handwriting. The letter addresses him again, but the victim will now be Anna Eriksson.
This letter is followed by a third and fourth. It seems the police have a serial killer on their hands yet there is absolutely no connection between the victims to be found. The killer continues dispatching the people who are on the letters, taunting the baffled inspectors, particularly Barbarotti. Why are the letters being addressed to him, and to his home address?
The novel is broken into seven parts and parts one to six start with the killer writing his thoughts and musings, similar to diary entries. This structure works extremely well, revealing the killers motive but not his identity, and leaves the reader knowing much more than the police.
This is the second Barbarotti novel, and just as with the first we are treated to the “earthy”, realistic side of police investigating. The reader is privy to just how difficult an investigation of this sort must be with the inspectors struggling to find the killer before he gets to the next person on the letter.
Also, with this second novel, Barbarotti wants to settle down and leave the force to marry Marianne. This should lead to interesting dynamics in the third book.
And again, the reader is treated to Nesser’s wonderful dry, subtle humor. And again, Barbarrotti continues his eccentric point system to prove God’s existence.
Nesser is a highly skilled crime writer, and I am willing to bet that he will have you guessing the identity of the killer right until the end.
This novel was again translated by Sarah Death, and again she has done a superb job.
Thanks to my fellow buddy readers who I read this with and their wonderful insightful comments.
Håkan Nesser is a Swedish author and teacher who has written a number of successful crime fiction novels. He has won Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times, and his novel Carambole won the Glass Key award in 2000. His books have been translated from Swedish into numerous languages.
Håkan Nesser was born and grew up in Kumla, and has lived most of his adult life in Uppsala. His first novel was published in 1988, but he worked as a teacher until 1998 when he became a full-time author. In August, 2006, Håkan Nesser and his wife Elke moved to Greenwich Village in New York.