Review: Hour of the Wolf by Håkan Nesser

It’s a dark night on a narrow, wet road, and a driver who’s had a bit too much to drink veers off and strikes a pedestrian, killing him instantly. Panicked, the driver leaves the scene of the crime, thinking there were no witnesses. But then a note arrives at his door: someone did see, and now he is being blackmailed.

Most good crime novels begin with a body. But how many also begin with the guilty party? It’s an unusual narrative choice but Swedish author Håkan Nesser pulls it off beautifully in his latest work, Hour of the Wolf, resulting in a novel rife with suspense, moral quandary, and just enough humor to keep our heads above water.

When a second body turns up, Chief Inspector Reinhart and his crew come onto the scene, and we move back and forth between the sharp, punchy dialog of the precinct and the increasingly distorted musings of the killer as he desperately tries to return his life to normal.

With the recent surge in the popularity of one-sided crime shows and podcasts, it’s easy to see the world as black and white, guilty or innocent. But the crimes in Nesser’s novel are awash with the hue of reality: gray. In Nesser’s capable hands we explore not only the case at hand but how the desperate actions of one impact those left behind, resulting in unpredictable paths, like “billiard balls rolling about….Unfathomable patterns; collisions and changes of direction, a game in which everything seemed to be just as uncertain and yet as predetermined as life itself.”

Whether you’ve followed Nesser and inspector Van Veeteren from the beginning or if this is your first time along, settle in for a riveting, satisfying journey.