On my way out of town, I found Sidetracked, a seemingly-appropriate book to take along. The book was a mystery by Henning Mankell, the Swedish author who unstintingly bemoans changes in Swedish culture and the underfunding of law enforcement (and other social programs). One question is, "Is it a mystery or a political tract?"
The title was sort of appropriate. Jim Klingel, a former cabin owner, bestowed the name Sidetrack on the retreat because it is a place that offers lots of distractions. For instance, I discovered we have a bad plumbing leak as I closed the place up. That kind of thing will distract anyone from lots of minor annoyances. (The call's in to the plumber.)
In Mankell's southern Swedish world, "sidetracked" referred to things that kept distracting detective Wallander from piecing together clues to solve a series of murders carried out by a serial killer.
(This is the second of Mankell's books with a serial killer plot. Either he's trying to kill off the valuable tourist business in Ystad or serial killers make better television movies -- where several of his books have ended up.)
Like most serial killers in real life and fiction, this one is far-fetched. So is the plot. That made the book difficult for me. But Mankell is a good story teller in spite of his carping about change and creating a villain who channels Geronimo. (Yes, that Geronimo. It seems there are Swedes as well as Germans who are hooked on the image of the noble American savage, the costumes, camp outs, and the imagined urges for revenge.)
Overall, I was entertained by the story in Sidetracked, but not as much as I was distracted by the beauty, the loons, the eagles, and the lake at Sidetrack. I wouldn't say, "Don't read this." But, I'm not buying a copy for my bookshelf.
- Reading group guide for Sidetracked
- Mankell's Sidetracked web page
- Martin Southerland's review at Legends of the Sun Pig
- The Sidetracked video (with English subtitles)