Since I haven't read THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO I can't participate in that discussion thread, so I thought I'd start one about the Kurt Wallander books by Henning Mankell. These are police procedurals that take place mostly in southern Sweden, and mostly reflect on the changes in Swedish society.

Wallander is a very interesting character, full of self doubt and never sure he's on the right track, but his heart is in the right place and he keeps trying. So far I've read FACELESS KILLERS and THE DOGS OF RIGA. Honestly, Mankell's style is not one I usually like - heavy on narration, short on action and dialog - but in these books it works well.

I'm a big fan of the Martin Beck series by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, which was ran from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies and addressed the changes in Swedish society at that time, and I think there are some similarities to the Wallander books.


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Wahloo and Sjowall are superb. Mankell is very good when he's good. Lately, though, I got the feeling he's a tad over-rated. I particularly disliked the excursions into Africa without much rhyme or reason except that that appears to be his political agenda. (I should add that that W&S also had an agenda but did not seem as heavy-handed about it).
I've read all the Wallender stories and they are very good and very Swedish. It is a welcome change from American or British detective stories. It shows that there is a life in other countries and that the causes of violence are the same in all the countries. I recommend them all. I have also read that this summer on PBS Mystery, they will show some Wallender stories with Kenneth Brannagh playing Wallender. Maybe it will help Americans get interested in Henning Mankell.
There are actually a series of Wallender movies out of Sweden that we see here - subtitled - they star Krister Henriksson as Wallender and they are extremely good. for more including the changeover in actresses playing Linda (Johanna Sallstrom died too young).

I Die, But the Memory Lives On is one of my favourite of his non-crime books, even though it's possibly one of the more harrowing things I've read in years -

I love his books - but then I like the introspection very very much (and Wallender seems to me to be very much Mankell himself or vice versa if you prefer :) )
Twilight Zone moment--I had just decided to go back to Sjowall and Wahloo, and here's this discussion!

I like the warts-and-all characterization of Wallander, but the writing style of the books always reminded me of typing with gloves on. It's a bit numb and creaky. How much of that is the translation factor, I don't know.


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