22 07 2010

Before the Frost by Henning Mankell

In the dark forest near Ystad, a grisly find is made: human hands and a severed head, arranged in a grim mockery of prayer. A bible, seemingly heavily annotated by the killer is also found. But this is just one of series of bizarre incidents that have been taxing inspector Kurt Wallander: including domestic pets being attacked. Not a good time, in fact, for Wallander’s daughter Linda to make her debut as another detective on the force. But (needless to say) she soon gives her father a run for his money in identifying the criminals involved–a sinister group with biblical punishments on their unflinching agenda.

This is primarily about Linda rather than her father. The plot is a bit flaky and was never quite sure what the ultimate plot was actually about but the narrative is pretty strong and fairly steams along. Not one of his best but still rather good.

Smiling people

30 03 2010

The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell

After killing a man in the line of duty, Inspector Kurt Wallander finds himself spiralling into an alcohol-fuelled depression. He has just decided to leave the police when an old friend approaches him for help investigating his father’s suspicious death. Kurt doesn’t want to know. But then his friend is found shot dead. Against his better judgment, he returns to work to head what may now have become a double murder case. But while Wallander is on the trail of the killer, somebody is on the trail of Wallander, and closing in fast.

It’s pretty good stuff both in terms of plot and in getting into the Wallander psychology and probably the best of the sequence so far. Really rather gripping, extremely atmospheric and captures well the day to day frustrations of both policing and life. This is the first of the Wallander books where I’d seen the Branagh TV adaptation beforehand. Fortunately, the BBC had taken plenty of liberties plot-wise so really not a problem.

Who let the dogs out?

16 10 2009

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell

dogs riga

Second in the Wallander series – and some exceptional challenges for Kurt:

Sweden, winter, 1991. Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team receive an anonymous tip-off. A few days later a life raft is washed up on a beach. In it are two men, dressed in expensive suits, shot dead. The dead men were criminals, victims of what seems to have been a gangland hit. But what appears to be an open-and-shut case soon takes on a far more sinister aspect. Wallander travels across the Baltic Sea, to Riga in Latvia, where he is plunged into a frozen, alien world of police surveillance, scarcely veiled threats, and lies. Doomed always to be one step behind the shadowy figures he pursues, only Wallander’s obstinate desire to see that justice is done brings the truth to light.

It is rollercoaster stuff and the Lativan escapade is particularly exciting. Also serves as a reminder of what already seems like a different age.

3 star

More Wallander action

16 04 2009

Firewall, One Step Behind by Henning Mankell


One step behind

I’m growing to like these books more and more. There is a depth and richness to the characterisation, particularly of Wallander himself, which make for an entertaining ride.

The contrast between the complex, challenging and frequently gruesome cases Wallander has to deal with and the routine difficulties of everyday life from doing the washing to sorting out car trouble (as well as more metaphysical problems) is particularly compelling.

Have only seen one of the BBC TV adaptations so far but intend to catch up in due course.


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