Not a Wallander novel, but still set in Sweden, this time in the deep north of dark forests and icy lakes.
Stefan Lindman, who we met in Before The Frost, investigates the brutal murder of a former colleague. Did I say brutal? There’s no such thing as an ‘ordinary’ murder in Mankell’s Sweden, criminal death always comes in an horrific manner but fortunately we’re spared a lot of gore as the novel concentrates on Lindman unravelling the past.
There’s always something melancholy, too, about Mankell’s characters. Lindman learns he is ill in the opening pages.
He was 37, a police officer trying to lead a decent life, a life that was never more than ordinary. There again, what was ordinary? He was rapidly approaching middle age and didn’t have any children. Now he was having to fight an illness that might overcome him. In which case the end of his life wouldn’t even be ordinary. It would mean that he would never be able to demonstrate his true worth.
I really appreciate the sparse Mankell prose :
He woke up with a start and checked his watch. 4.45. He’d been dreaming. Somebody was chasing him. Then he was surrounded by a pack of dogs that were tearing at his clothes and biting him all over his body. His father was there somewhere, and Elena. It wasn’t difficult to interpret the dream.
A satisfying mystery
My Amazon link : The Return of the Dancing Master
(The image of Lindman played by Ola Rapace is from the first televised series of Wallander with the superb Krister Henrikkson)