Skip to content

Sidetracked by Henning Mankel

July 25, 2009


This book starts with two seemingly unrelated but equally gruesome incidents. In one, Swedish inspector Kurt Wallander is called out to a farm to investigate a complaint of a trespasser in the crop fields. There, he finds a young, obviously frightened girl. But before he can talk to her, she douses herself in gasoline and lights herself on fire. Not far from there, a retired politician walks down to the beach from his home before turning in for bed. There, he is hatcheted in the back by what appears to him to be a dwarf.

This is the fifth book in Mankel’s series about a Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. I haven’t read any of the others, but it was easy to get a sense of Wallander’s character and I actually liked the allusions to the other stories without much explanation.

I don’t read a lot of crime fiction, but a friend recommended this book, and it held up well to James Patterson and other similar books that I have read. It’s fast-paced, smartly written and has plenty of twists and turns. Mankel deftly balances what he reveals and what he keeps a mystery, inserting just enough of the scenes where the crimes are committed to keep it suspenseful but not give too much away. It’s also not a perfectly plotted crime novel—it’s messy, with mistakes and dead ends, which gives it a more realistic feel. And Mankel adds pieces of dialogue and side plots about personal life to make him seem well-rounded without bogging down in it. Overall, a pretty enjoyable summer read.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: