May 22, 2022 7:18 am

Håkan Nesser, los límites diffusos

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The Swedish inspector of Italian descent Gunnar Barbarotti, protagonist of ‘The darkest night’, arrived at the Scandinavian bookstores un shortly after detective Harry Hole, created by Jo Nesbø, and a little before the intrepid ‘hacker’ Lisbeth Salander, product of the combative imagination of Stieg Larsson. From that intermediate place in the ascending line towards the success of the Nordic novel, Barbarotti, the invention of Håkan Nesser (Kumla, Sweden, 1950), was outlined from the first installment of his investigations, which is now beginning to be recovered by the publishing house Destino, as a ‘rara avis’, which sought to conquer the demands of the most commercial readers without neglecting those with more literary preferences. The result of this attempt

is a mixture not always successful but interesting in any case, essential for anyone who aspires to know in detail the ins and outs of one of the most important trends in contemporary ‘noir’.

The Hermansson family gathers a few days before Christmas to celebrate the birthdays of the patriarch Karl-Erik, a retired teacher, and Ebba, his favorite daughter, the mother of two teenagers who, of course, join the gathering. This is the excuse for Nesser to deployTake your already mentioned double intention and offer us, on the one hand, the disappearance of two of the members of the Hermansson clan, that Barbarotti will have to resolve, and, on the other, a corrosive psychological analysis of its protagonists.

‘The darkest night’. Hakan Nesser. Destination, 2021. 572 pages. 20.90 euros

Hybridization

Brilliant each one on its own, the mystery and the emotional dissection do not, however, end up merging as they should to create a single and condensed story, rather the other way around, they fragment the novel and slow down its pace. However, despite this failure in the cohesion of the narrative ingredients, ‘The darkest night’ has the strength of being built around the figure of Barbarotti, whose warmth and ability to adapt to family circumstances that are not entirely optimal and very present in the plot bring him surprisingly close to the profiles of some of the most emblematic Mediterranean researchers, such as Delicate Petra or Salvo Montalbano. Close to them despite the cold that surrounds the novel, Barbarotti and by extension Nesser himself find their power in what is at the same time their weakest point: hybridization, the diffuse limits of the genre and its currents, which are diluted here and confuse more than ever, to generate in the reader a welcome bewilderment.

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