Nesser: Håkan: Männikska utan hund (Barbarotti series) (2006)

Illustration by Getty Images; Cover by Jan Biberg
Illustration by Getty Images; Cover by Jan Biberg

Menneske uten hund is very much a character driven story without much focus on Hollywood action. It hurt to read about the dysfunctional families with their roots in the couple Rosemarie Wunderlich Hermansson and Karl-Erik Hermansson who lived in the imaginary town of Kymlinge.

Karl-Erik was a bully. The way he mowed down any resistance Rosemarie might have to his desires was telling. His treatment of Robert when Robert had his accident was also cruel. However, what hurt most was the manner in which he made it so clear that Ebba was superior to her siblings, Kristina and Robert. Rosemarie seemed unable to do anything about the situation and at the time we meet the family it seems as if she even struggles to find it in her to love her children and grandchildren.

Claiming that a mystery ever has a happy ending seems folly to me. Nesser is no exception to this. Murder is the crime in Menneske uten hund and murder does seem to have greater consequences than most other crimes. Perhaps that has to do with murder being so final.

When Robert and Henrik go missing, the whole family struggles. Ebba the favored child has lost her own favored child. Falling apart was never part of her plans, yet that is what she does leaving Lars and Kristoffer trying to figure out how to deal with their own loss while holding themselves together for Ebba.

Kristina and Jacob’s relationship changes drastically and not for the better. At least not for Kristina. Kristina herself states that sometimes we follow through with our choices even though we know these could have disastrous consequences.

Although the general tone of the novel was one of grief, Barbarotti lightened the mood with his “deals”.

I loved this story and I loved the cover. Barbarotti and his colleagues seem real and I am glad my neighbor introduced me to him and the Hermansson clan.


Nesser has another character called Van Veeteren and these stories are also in English. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren lives in a non-existent country and can be followed through five stories.


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Translations of Männikska utan hund:

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