Category Archives: Kurt Wallander by Henning Mankell

The Kurt Wallander Series by Henning Mankell is one of the finest examples of Swedish crime fiction, or “Nordic Noir”. Kurt Wallander is a likeable, truly human character, and the series combines a beautiful minimalist writing style with the grit of hard-work police procedure that lets you live the frustrations and triumphs of an investigating detective.

REVIEW: The White Lioness by Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander #4)

Series: Kurt Wallander

Book Number: 4

Read this book for: realistic police procedure, history – Apartheid, mentions of historical figures, suspense, minimalist writing, Scandanavian/Nordic Noir

Quick Review: Another wonderful addition to the Wallander series; several different but overlapping and suspenseful storylines make this a satisfying read!

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Kurt Wallander is called in to investigate the execution-style murder of a Swedish housewife with a seemingly perfect existence. A series of strange circumstances around her death puts him on the trail of a killer that is poised to cause an entire nation to descend into chaos.

THE WHITE LIONESS is chronologically the fourth novel in the Wallander series, but the third in publishing order, following on the heels of THE DOGS OF RIGA. Although not strictly necessary or central to the plot, some of Wallander’s behaviour is informed by and makes reference to the events of the previous novel, so I would suggest picking that one up first. In comparison to the prior novels in the series, I enjoyed THE WHITE LIONESS more than THE DOGS OF RIGA, but still not quite as much as FACELESS KILLERS.

In THE WHITE LIONESS, Mankell continues his trend of connecting the somewhat sleepy police force in Ystad to major global events through crime. While I have always felt that Mankell’s minimalist writing style was best suited to the clean and occasionally bleak Scandinavian countries, he uses Wallander to great effect as we watch him try to come to grips with the world’s major political issues as they bring problems to his own front door.

Interestingly, as Wallander’s cases become increasingly vast, we get to se more of his inner struggles. His behaviour is increasingly unpredictable, erratic and irrational – although somehow as a reader you can begin to understand his emotional reactions. Every novel opens the door a little further into Wallander’s state of mind, and that fact alone is almost enough to recommend this book on.

As for the plot, this is where THE WHITE LIONESS really shines in comparison to THE DOGS OF RIGA, with multiple interwoven and overlapping plot lines, and layer upon layer of subterfuge. It’s an excellently penned, satisfyingly complex thriller, as well as a great detective story.

I do want to point out that this edition is not perfect; I noticed several typos and defects that would benefit from a closer look by an editor. The minimalist prose is in this book almost exaggerated by the translator – I would love to see it a little more refined. Happily, this did not detract too badly from the enjoyment of reading this novel!

Pick up THE WHITE LIONESS if you are a Scandinavian or Nordic Noir fan, or even if you just love a good thriller! You will not be disappointed.

REVIEW: The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander #3)

 

Series: Kurt Wallander

Book Number: 3

Read this book for: realistic police procedure, Cold War influence, gritty espionage thriller, straightforward plot, minimalist writing, Scandanavian/Nordic Noir

Quick Review: Decent read; while the twists and turns of the espionage element are unsurprising, the gritty details of the day-to-day prevent this novel from becoming unbelievable.

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Kurt Wallander returns in his second novel to investigate two bodies that have washed up in a liferaft. Instead of being able to hand off the case when he discovers they have come from another country, he is drawn into a maze of corruption and politics he is unprepared for. Will his unwilling involvement cost him his life?

Continue reading REVIEW: The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander #3)

REVIEW: Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander #2)

Series: Kurt Wallander

Book Number: 2

Read this book for: realistic police procedure, beautiful prose, strong atmosphere, straightforward plot, minimalist writing, Scandanavian/Nordic Noir

Quick Review: Absolutely read this; it’s dark and chilling and atmospheric, with many appreciable touches of messy reality and has a fairly satisfying finish. A good introduction to Kurt Wallander.

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Kurt Wallander is a detective whose personal life is crumbling around him. At the same time, he is dealing with an incredibly vicious double murder of an elderly couple, and freshly-sparked tensions between local refugee camps and Swedish citizens. Wallander is forced to attempt to solve a mystery with almost no leads, while also trying to prevent suspicion about the refugees from escalating into mass violence.

Continue reading REVIEW: Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander #2)