Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hardboiled - Henning Mankell's Serious Swedish Sleuth

Before I skedaddle on a brief vacation I'd just like to put in a plug for the police procedurals written by Henning Mankell. They feature Kurt Wallander, a cop in the southern Swedish province of Skane, which is between Denmark on the left and Latvia on the right.

Wallander is a complex man: overweight, indifferent-to-lousy health, far too sensitive for the job, and a terrific, if sometimes muddled, detective.

His little corner of Sweden is getting more and more violent, and his resources - both official and personal - increasingly inadequate to cope.

But cope he does, and along the way unravels some extremely weird and creative mysteries.

Mankell's scenarios are often bizarre and macabre. In translation the writing is spare, but with the occasional flex of the writer's muscle that makes me think he either does a lot of revisions and/or has a hell of a good editor.

The books tend to be long, but they are so well-constructed that the reader is either unaware of the length, or glad since it means the story isn't going to run out anytime soon.

Check it out.


Anonymous said...

I read "The Man Who Smiles". The cops and regular people seemed like very plausible, three dimensional characters. The problem was that the villain, a mysterious but prominent financier just didn't seem real. The juxtaposition of the earthy policemen with the cartoon billionaire made the whole plot silly and boring.

Is there a better one, or is that one representative.

Patrick said...

Try "Sidetracked" or "Firewall." I don't know "The Man Who Smiles."