TORBEN NIELSEN An Unsuccessful Man

TORBEN NIELSEN – An Unsuccessful Man. Harper & Row, US, 1976; published in Denmark in 1973 under the title Galgesangen, translated by Marianne Helweg.

   A young man hangs himself, on the face of it the result of unrequited love. Detective Superintendent Ancher has a suspicious mind, however, and digs up the remarkable facts that the dead man was singing as his head, went into the noose, and that his fiancee was expecting his quick return to her apartment.

   The story is Danish modern in tone and attitude, polished and uncluttered. Ancher is another Maigret, with the same unmistakable traits of patience and unyielding tenacity. A sex killer, crazed and despicable, confuses matters slightly but not yet nearly so much as an ending that needs much more explanation to be wholly satisfactory.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 1, No. 3, May 1977. (This review appeared earlier in the Hartford Courant.)

[UPDATE] 01-23-11.   Nielsen had one other mystery translated into English: 19 Red Roses (Collins, UK, 1978), a translation of Nitten Rode Roser, (Denmark, 1973; no US edition).

    I’ve been omitting my old reviews as short as this one is, especially when they’re of books as unknown as I suspect this one to be. I decided to include An Unsuccessful Man to demonstrate that publishing Scandinavian mysteries is nothing new. What’s new is that they’re popular and publishers are making money with them.