The NEW YORK TIMES carries a very good review by Janet Maslin of Henning Mankell's final novel in the Kurt Wallander series.


You may read it here:



I think it's Mankell's insistence on getting into his protagonist's character for better or worse that has always made me admire and respect his work.  Unless we can see the characters in mysteries as individuals, with all the miseries all of us face in one way or another, the things that happen in the books become rather meaningless listings of puzzling crimes. This final book sounds excellent.


Perhaps we may hope that he will start a new series with an equally challenging main character.

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Well said. His writing is so restrained yet he makes Wallander completely believable. 


Did you see the documentary 'Who is Kurt Wallander? He mentions destroying an almost complete manuscript of a Wallander novel that deals with child abuse. (He regrets it now, of course.)



No.  Haven't seen it.  It sounds fascinating.  He is an impulsive man, and one who thinks less of his work than of principles. That is always admirable, if not necessarily smart (viz. his escapade on behalf of the Palestinians that might have cost him his life).  As a reader I'm not always engaged by his agendas, but you cannot fault his characterization.

Reading the book was bittersweet.  A fitting finale, with all of the goodbyes. 


Ah.  Thanks, Suzanne.  I'll look forward to it.  I wonder what Mankell will be up to next.
I.J., I'm going way off topic here, but I was just reading the reviews for The Fires of the Gods and your other Sugawara books and I was wondering, how did you become interested in 11th century Japan? If you've already answered this 4,000 times and don't feel like repeating it, I'll understand. Congratulations on the new book, and break a leg with it.

By all means go off topic if you're headed that way.  :)  The short answer is: a combination of teaching a World Lit. course and my admiration for the Van Gulik series on Tang China.

Thanks for the good wishes.  I need them: again without a publisher!

Oh dear---the last one?  And I have just recently started reading the Wallander series.  Though I have quite a few to go, I guess, before I get to the final one. Even though I saw the TV series---and it was pretty good, though sometimes difficult to follow---the books are so much better.  I like Kenneth Branagh, but accepting that all these British actors speaking with British accents were Swedish cops was a bit of a hurdle. I don't know why, but it bothered me.  And a lot gets left out of a TV movie, even when the British do it.


I have just finished Mankell's "Kennedy's Brain,"  which is not a Wallander mystery, nor a traditional murder mystery at all, but it's very suspenseful, thought-provoking, and absolutely chilling in its farther reaching message about the nature of evil. Needless to say, it's very "dark."  (Is this perhaps characteristic of Scandinavian mysteries)?


Mankells' novels---well, the ones I've read so far---seem full of troubled people and shadowy villains with an agenda. Fascinating!


I don't mind the political agendas so much, because Mankell is so intelligent and  writes so well, and, as you say---he really does delineate character. And how his characters deal with the contemporary world and all its troubles.





Yes, that's pretty much my take on Mankell also.  I don't really like his agendas, but then I don't like agendas in any of the books I read. The rest is quite good and the darkness is fine with me.  There are a number of very good Scandinavian writers. Some without agendas.  :)


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