Crime fiction,  Nordic Noir

The Unlucky Lottery by Håkan Nesser

I am always recommending and lending books, so this time it was my turn to borrow one! My lovely professor gave me The Unlucky Lottery by Håkan Nesser a few months ago after talking about how claustrophobic and catching Scandinavian crime fiction is.


From Goodreads:

Four friends celebrate the fact that they have won 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 Munster. But when another member of the lottery group disappears, as well as Leverkuhn’s neighbor, Munster appeals to Van Veeteren for assistance.

Soon Munster will find himself once again interviewing the Leverkuhn family, including the eldest – Irene – a resident of a psychiatric clinic. And as he delves deeper into the family’s history, he will discover dark secrets and startling twists, which not only threaten the clarity of the case, but also his life…

I was not at all familiar with either the author or the series, but that did not make my reading less enjoyable. I got to know Inspector Munster and his team little by little and although I knew there were references to previous cases and personal affairs I was not getting, it did not make it any difficult to get into this story. I could see though, thanks to the glimpses into Chief Inspector Van Veeteren why my professor thought I would love the series: he is half philosopher, half detective. And that is perfection.

However, The Unlucky Lottery focuses in Inspector Munster, a middle-aged man going through what we all go through: routine, doubt, self-doubt, extreme tiredness and feelings. The case he investigates also lets both him and the reader explore families, the different kind of families and how it is the perfect emotional ground to describe our darker and most complex side.

But, my favourite character and its relation to the case was – as you can imagine – a woman: Detective Ewa Moreno. She was, by far, the most interesting and complex of the characters and, somehow, the one I could relate the most. Her exhaustion, both physical and emotional percolates to the reader and it is one of the most powerful tools in the novel. The dark, extremely cold Scandinavian weather goes perfectly with Ewa’s mood and they help the reader to really get into the setting.

So, I really enjoyed The Unlucky Lottery and I can’t wait to read more novels by Håkan Nesser and I really want to know more about Ewa Moreno and, hopefully, see if she becomes chief inspector!


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