The Secret Life of Mr. Roos is the third Inspector Barbarotti novel by Håkan Nesser. A secluded hut in the middle of the woods and a risky double life. Mr Roos actually does what many people dream of, but unfortunately it doesn´t turn out well in the end.
59 years old Ante Valdemar Roos hates his job and barely gets along with his second wife and two stepdaughters. One day, a winning lottery ticket makes it possible for him to fulfil his childhood dream. Without informing his wife, he buys a hut in the middle of a forest. He resigns from work and decides to spend the rest of his days alone.
Anna Gambowska is a twenty-one-year-old recovering drug addict. On the run from the rehab centre and an abusive relationship, she takes refuge in Valdemar´s hut. Anna and Valdemar get on well from the beginning and soon form a sort of father-daughter relationship. But it’s not long before Anna’s violent ex-boyfriend turns up and things change.
Inspector Barbarotti doesn’t take much interest when a woman reports her husband as missing. That is, until a dead body is found near the missing man’s newly-bought hut, and Mr Roos becomes the number one murder suspect . . .
Håkan Nesser has written a large number of successful novels, mostly but not only crime fiction, and he moves effortlessly between genres. The Secret Life of Mr. Roos certainly is not an ordinary crime fiction novel. Almost nothing happens in the first half of the book, but the author step by step forms the background and introduces the main characters. It might sound a bit boring but it is not and you cannot help feeling sympathy for both Anna and Valdemar. Being a human isn´t easy.
In the second part a series of disastrous events take off, one leading to the next. Anna and Valdemar leave the hut and go on a road trip in Europe, eventually ending up in Maardam (well-known from Nesser´s Van Veeteren-series). Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti and his colleague Eva Backman enter the story, investigating and discussing the case. They too have an interesting relationship characterized by philosophical discussions as well as dry humour and compassion.
The Barbarotti series
Håkan Nesser instroduced Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti, a Swedish police inspector of Italian descent in The Darkest Day, followed by The Root of Evil and now The Secret Life of Mr. Roos. All three novels are mainly set in the small town Kymlinge in southern Sweden. Kymlinge is fictitious and named after an “abandoned tube station” in Stockholm. Planned as a crime series, the Inspector Barbarotti novels do not follow the classic structure of crime novels, and they are not necessarily read in order.