It’s a sweltering summer in Sweden and Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is long overdue for a holiday when a secretive and dubious religious sect comes under investigation. One of its members, a girl on the cusp of adolescence, is found dead in the forest near their holiday camp, brutally raped and strangled; the discovery of her body has been phoned in by an anonymous caller.
The members of the sect, the Pure Life, are led by Oscar Yellinek, a charismatic but unnervingly guarded messiah figure. In an act that mystifies and infuriates Van Veeteren and his associates, the members of the Pure Life choose to remain silent about the incident rather than defend themselves. But an unidentified woman is continuing to assist the authorities, and her knowledge suggests she’s more than just a passing Good Samaritan. Her tips become doubly perplexing as a new string of increasingly horrifying crimes defy everything Van Veeteren and his team thought they knew about the case.
A riveting new addition to Håkan Nesser’s acclaimed series, The Inspector and Silence is suspense at its haunting best.
Nesser's fine fourth Insp. Van Veeteren mystery (after 2009's Woman with a Birthmark) finds the crime-weary detective teetering on the brink of retirement while sweltering through a brutal case of rape and murder at a camp run by a religious group, the Pure Life (aka the "sex sect"), for adolescent girls. Van Veeteren immediately suspects the sinister cult leader, Oscar Yellinek, of killing first one, then another of his eerily silent charges, but he himself faces the real mystery of this disturbing parable of good and evil: how long will Van Veeteren, "spoiled over the years" by human inhumanity, be able to stand the desperately delicate balance of his chosen work, where he must constantly enter the malicious "heart of darkness"? As Van Veeteren slowly reconstructs these crimes, he also wrestles with the dilemma central to Nesser's police procedurals: the necessity of protecting evildoers until justice can be done.