Henning Mankell is the internatinally acclaimed, bestselling author of the Kurt Wallander novels. Mankell's novels have been translated into forty-five languages and have sold more than forty million copies worldwide. He was the first winner of the Ripper Award and also received the Glass Key and the Crime Writers' Association Golden Dagger, among other awards. His Kurt Wallander mysteries have been adapted into a PBS television series starring Kenneth Branagh. During his life, Mankell divided his time between Sweden and Mozambique, where he was artistic director of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo. He died in 2015.
This brilliant U.S. debut is the first book in a Swedish mystery series. An elderly couple is murdered on an isolated farm after being tortured brutally. The woman's last word, "foreign," unleashes an onslaught of antirefugee sentiment that Police Inspector Kurt Wallender tries to quell. Then the cold-blooded murder of a Somali refugee entangles the inspector further as he tries to solve that related crime as well. Meanwhile, he sloshes through the detritus of his own dsyfunctional life, trying to reconnect with his wife, who's left him; his daughter, who refuses to see him; and his father, who is slipping toward senility. The author goes well beyond the narrow police procedural in creating a full-bodied Wallender and in casting light on the refugee problem in contemporary Swedish society. Wallender is reminiscent of Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford in his low-key, thoughtful performance.
In his first appearance in English, Swedish bestselling author Mankell combines thriller-quality entertainment with a depiction of anti-foreigner prejudice in Sweden, painted here as a very chilly place indeed. Since his wife walked out on him, Kurt Wallender, a middle-aged cop in the small town of Lenarp, has drowned his sorrows in opera and far too much liquor. Such consolations can't help him absorb the scene at the Lovgren farm, where elderly Johannes Lovgren has been brutally beaten and stabbed to death and where his wife, Maria, is found barely alive with a noose around her neck. Rydberg, a police force old-timer, says the noose's unusual knot and the word foreigner, which Maria uttered before she died, are important. Wallender puts those clues on the back burner when he learns that Johannes, ostensibly a simple farmer, had a secret life involving wealth and connections unknown to his wife. However, a leak to the press complicates the investigation by arousing anti-immigrant feelings, some of which are expressed in anonymous threats. Mankell is clearly a skilled writer, and his portrait of Wallender (who periodically slides beneath respectability) is effective. But he provides essential information only at the last minute, which makes the solution feel more like an appendix than a conclusion. Also, American readers may find odd Mankell's bundling of his upright anti-racism message with broad notions of what constitutes acceptable social control. (Mar.)
"An exquisite novel of mesmerizing depth and suspense." --Los Angeles Times "An especially satisfying crime novel, like those of such past masters as Georges Simenon, Nicholas Freeling, and Sweden's own Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo." --The Wall Street Journal "Intelligent, moving and topical, this is a thriller of the very best kind." --The Times (London) "A well-crafted police procedural, the story moves along at a brisk pace and comes to an exciting climax." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch