Crime Fiction Quotes: Woman with Birthmark

From Woman with Birthmark (1996, transl. 2009) by Håkan Nesser,  an Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery, set in fictional Maardam in northern Europe.

“In their eagerness to sell a few extra copies to casual readers with nothing better to do over the weekend, the Sunday papers made a meal of the Ryszard Malik murder. Bold-print headlines on billboards and front pages, and a double-page spread in both Neuwe Blatt and Telegraff. Detailed and noncommittal, but needless to say they were pitching it right — what the hell did people have to keep them occupied on a damp and windy day in January apart from sitting indoors and lapping up the story of somebody who had suffered even more than they were doing?”  (his comment on crime fiction readers, too, perhaps)


“Constable Klaarentoft was known  as the force’s most skillful photographer, and his task on this occasion was to take as many pictures as he possibly could. Van Veeteren knew that he had stolen this idea from another movie, namely Blow-Up, from the mid-sixties. … The theory was, of course, that somewhere among all these faces, which would slowly emerge from the police photographic laboratory, would be the murderer’s.

“… Klaarentoft had evidently not seen the film. He traipsed between the graves, snapping away to his heart’s content, toatally ignoring Van Veeteren’s instruction to be as unobtrusive as possible.

“The fact that he managed to take no less than twelve pictures of the clergyman conducting the ceremony suggested that he might not have grasped the point of his contribution.”


“It was bad enough putting up with himself, and the day progressed in a fashion reminiscent of a seal traveling through a desert.”


“‘Our life together was so good,’ she said. ‘I supposed we ought to have realized that something that worked so well couldn’t last forever.’

“‘Yes,’ said Van Veeteren. ‘That’s more or less the way I look at life as well.'”


“The chief inspector broke a toothpick in half and looked pleased. As pleased as he was able to look, that is, which wasn’t all that much. Nevertheless, Reinhart noticed his state.

“‘What’s the matter with you?’ he asked. ‘Don’t you feel well?'”


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