“the last day of Waldemar Leverkuhn’s life could hardly have begun any better.” Bonger, Wauters, Leverkuhn, and Palinski had been friends for a long time. They had been splitting the cost of a lottery ticket, not expecting a win but enjoying their plans to spend the money they were never going to get. But lightning did strike and the quartet won twenty thousand euros, five thousand euros each. For all the men, this was a lot of money to enjoy, to spend a little bit recklessly.
Intendent Munster is put in charge of the case. His first thought was ” what would Van Veeteren see that I don’t.” But Van Veeteren is no longer with the police, either retired or on a sabbatical, depending on whom you are speaking to. Leverkuhn was 72, the father of three children from whom he was estranged, but not the sort of man to have enemies. Then another member of the lottery group disappears as does Leverkuhn’s neighbor who had nothing to do with the lottery.
As with all of Nesser’s books, THE UNLUCKY LOTTERY is character driven. The author offers this quote before he begins the story – “For the man in the street, the most important thing is to realize that deeds have consequences. For a detective they have causes.” The team of detectives charged with solving the case know the consequences: Leverkuhn is dead. Their difficulty is in determining the cause. To that end there are any number of suspects.
Munster decides he needs Van Veeteren’s ability to make accurate judgements about the criminals who have entered his life. To that end, he pays a visit to his former boss at his new job in the used book store. Van Veeteren has doubts about Munster’s collection of suspects.
Van Veeteren sums up the work of a police investigation and its impact upon suspects to his friend. “…you should bear in mind that until three months ago they were regarded as a perfectly normal family – until somebody happened to lift the lid on them….”
The only downside to the book is that it doesn’t have enough Van Veeteren.