10 November 2007

Swedish mystery (again)

The street on which Kurt Wallander and his daughter Linda shared an apartment in Before the Frost. Photo by Simon Hämmerle

I picked up two more Henning Mankell mysteries at the Northfield library to take along on my trip to Oregon. I started Before the Frost before I left, but it was a big hardcover, so I didn't pull it out during the flight west. I finished in Eugene while taking breaks from writing an instructors' manual and spending time with my mother.

This Mankell story is mainly about a police recruit named Linda Wallander. In this fictional Swedish world, Linda is the daughter of Kurt Wallander, detective inspector about whom Mankell wrote half a dozen other mysteries.

This story is pretty good, although the main characters are so flawed they seem real. Now, I am pretty sure that there aren't any perfect families, but I'm glad I'm not part of the Wallander family. Father Kurt unpredictably veers from ignoring anything his daughter says to telling her to present her theories at a case conference in police headquarters. Daughter Linda goes from being thoughtlessly cautious to being dangerously venturesome.

And most of the other characters -- especially the crazy bad guys -- aren't any more predictable. Now with crazies, that's understandable. But with an experienced investigator and a rookie just out of the police academy, such behavior is unexpected. Unless these people are real humans with a history we don't know much about. Mankell seems to have created those characters in this book.

He's also created a convoluted plot full of violence and mystery.

Overall, it's a long book full or realistic characters, and it's good reading. I liked this one better than the first Mankell's books I read a couple weeks ago.

If you other ideas, write and tell us.

From Swedish TV, three actors who play major characters in Before the Frost: Ola Rapace (plays dectective Stefan Lindman), Krister Henriksson (plays Kurt Wallander), and Johanna Sällström (who plays Linda Wallander).


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