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4.2 out of 5 stars93
4.2 out of 5 stars
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 2 January 2008
I have read all of Mankell's Kurt Wallander books so was particularly interested to read this one where his daighter Linda becomes the primary character in the book.

Overall I enjoyed the book as it carries on the great Mankell novels of superb plot, dialogue, suspense and bringing to life teh characters and surroundings of Ystadd in Sweden.

I found the start a litle slow as Mankell tries to bring you the background to Linda that the author never raised in his previous novels. It was also a little strange having crimes occur which Kurt investigated but within the first 100 pages of the novel are not the focus, as it is on his daughter whose friend has gone missing.

However the final half of the book is typical Mankell with all the threads coming together and the pace and page turnability increasing.

Linda Wallander does not have her fathers experience and many of his failings, but Mankell does bring his daughter very much to life as she begins her new role as police officer.

The most interesting side story of the book is Linda's relationship now back living with her father. As they start to work closely together she finds out more about him and why he did nt spend more time with the family when she was younger. Discovering her father through out this investigation is a pleasure and a pain for Linda. I look forward to many more episodes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2012
Kurt Wallander (KW) nears retirement. He wants to sell his flat full of bad memories and buy a house with a view of the sea to retire to, with a dog. But he fears this fate. His only friend is dying of cancer; his father is dead, and his ex-wife and daughter Linda are unlikely to keep him much company. Nor will his current colleagues...

This novel has weaknesses. Examples: 1) its length; 2) the many pages filled with the bad guy's sick ideology; 3)the many irritations between father Kurt and his daughter Linda Wallander.

Re (1): In the 1960s and '70s, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö wrote 10 brilliant Swedish police procedurals. They needed 50% of the words authors like HM use today, but produced a memorable series, immortalized by two Martin Beck tv-series, one Swedish, one British. Writing fat novels today is dumb: who reads them when social media are occupying readers 24/7? Only translators benefit from flabby books, not authors or readers, unless brilliant writing justifies extra pages. Le Carré and Lee Child come to mind, but who else?

Re (2): In 1978, 900+ mostly US believers in a preacher called Jim Jones committed suicide in Guyana. One man escaped, a Swedish convert, so this novel's Prologue says. He is the bad guy in this book. But to read dozens of pages by or about this crazy self-styled prophet throughout the book, gives the term "page turner" a new meaning. But he and his first Norwegian disciple of a sect of two dozen people are well organized and plan something awesome in Sweden to cleanse Christianity...

Re (3): The book starts in August 2000 in Ystad, Sweden when Linda (29), a newly-minted policewoman, moves in with her father to cover the 2 weeks before she can wear her uniform and occupy her own flat. The book is written from her perspective. Daily contact with her father, bad dreams and memories about her youth do yield new perspectives on KW, whose bad temper and fights with her mother Mona frightened her as a child. KW's bad moods persist. He is also overweight and forgetful. They bicker and fight. But when Linda pays a surprise visit to her remarried mother Mona, she is shocked by what she finds. Can anyone really know his/her parents, closest friends or partner? Vintage Nordic gloom.

When Linda's childhood friend Anna disappears, she embarks on a private search. Soon another, older woman is reported missing. Days later, only her head and her hands, linked as if in prayer, are found in a hut in an untouched primal Swedish forest as dense as Guyana's jungle... In this thriller, frustrated and impatient Linda is always one step ahead of her dad, who does not believe in his daughter's feelings about a series of weird, deadly incidents with animals, then humans.

Linda is not a nice person and no future hero. Ten years elapsed between HM's ninth real book about KW and his 10th, entitled "The Troubled Man". This thriller is an intermezzo between Parts 9 and 10, written from KW's only child's perspective, preparing readers softly for his fate at the end of Part 10.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2005
Having read all of Henning Mankell's crime fiction novels, I am now a huge fan of the lead character Detective Kurt Wallander. In 'Before the Frost', we are now following the story through the eyes of his daughter, Linda. All along in the series prior to this book, Linda is mentioned and even slightly involved at times. But her character is painted as a bit of a misguided and aimless girl.
But now she has chosen to be a police officer, and we see her in a more serious and determined light. The investigation in question brings Linda directly into the fray as it involves a religious sect to which her friend is heavily involved with. In the course of the case, we see that Linda shares many attributes to her father, particularly her impatience and temper.
Although I enjoyed Linda Wallander as a character, she is by no means as compelling and interesting as Kurt Wallander, who is a complex yet intruiging man. Thankfully we get lots of Kurt Wallander in this book and not just Linda. And for those who've read 'Return of the Dancing Master' we see Detective Stefan Lindman too, but he is underused here.
All in all, if you are a Kurt Wallander fan, then read this and hopefully this is just the start of a fresh new series of crime novels by Henning Mankell.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 October 2010
Excellent read. Plenty to get your teeth into. Linda, daughter of Inspector Wallander, has just finished training, and is eagerly waiting to enter the local police force within days. A series of crimes against animals take place, which father and daughter try to solve, worrying that this may lead to crimes against humans. Father and daughter have a complicated relationship, with Linda being spikey and difficult on many occasions. Linda's friends are in danger, Linda is in danger. Good fast pace. Difficult to put down. Definitely worth a read.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
I think Henning Mankell is trying to up the ante in the Wallander books. The early books were about criminals, often loners. There was always some connection with national or world issues like immigration or racial tension, but the clever bit was how one small event in Ystad reflected world trends.
Lately though, Mankell is concentrating on more and more unlikely situations to, presumably, give the books a bigger impact. The trouble is, it has the opposite effect.
The last book, 'Firewall', had Ystad at the centre of a bunch of criminals infiltrating a computer network with the intention of world domination. It spoiled the book somewhat. In 'Before the Frost' it's a group of religious fundamentalists (how topical) with a 'grand plan'.
And I think Mankell's problem here is that even he doesn't really know what this grand plan is. So he has trouble describing it. The actions of the fundamentalists are a series of pseudo-symbolic acts, like burning animals, and putting women-who've-had-abortions to death. It's empty stuff, melodramatic, and dull. It doesn't move the plot along and feels like Mankell was struggling with his material.
The rest of the book deals with soon-to-be police officer, Linda Wallander, and her relationship with her father, our beloved Kurt. But even here, the writing is untypically stilted, and there are some downright unbelievable scenes. For instance, Linda has an argument with Kurt at the Police Station and throws a glass ashtray at him, making him bleed profusely. I didn't believe this scene at all. Much of the dialogue in the book, especially between Linda and her father, or Linda and her friends, is highly unrealistic and difficult to voice.
When Mankell gets back to the things he's good at, the novel is fine though. He's good at describing the Skåne landscape. He's phenomenally good at creating tension, suspense and atmosphere. He's good at describing the way the police station works.
'Before the Frost', more than any other Wallander novel, makes you think about what he's not so good at: dialogue is the chief culprit. He's okay when it's police matters, but he just doesn't have an ear for ordinary dialogue like, say, the Norwegian crime writer Karin Fossum, which makes me think it's not just a translation problem.
I'm not sure he's so great at writing from a woman's perspective either. Linda's character is not nearly as compelling nor empathetic as Kurt's. She's at times gloomy, like Kurt, at times childlike, and girly, but rarely realistic. Her previous life events are what define her, and they're like something from a 'build a character' kit. I'm not sure I look forward to the next Linda Wallander mystery.
All these criticisms aside, I still largely enjoyed the book, though I found much of the melodramatic religious stuff tedious. There are moments of great tension and horror, just like in any Mankell crime novel, but it seems to be spread more thinly than usual.
It makes me glad there's a Kurt Wallander novel ('The Man Who Smiled') still untranslated. Somehow I know it'll be better than this.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2009
Throughout the Wallander series of books, we've watched Linda grow up and play more and more of a role in her father's life. In Before the Frost she finally fulfills her destiny, Star Wars style, and becomes a police officer in Ystad, the Swedish town which has been the backdrop to her father's event-laden career. This book is much more Linda's story than her father's, but sadly she isn't as interesting a character as he is. The story focuses on the disappearance of an old school friend of Linda's, and Linda's attempts to play sleuth when the police aren't interested. As the story unfolds she does a series of fairly stupid and risky things that I found completely infuriating - possibly things that I would have excused if Kurt Wallander had done them, because his world-weary instincts are generally right. As it was, she reminded me of Jack Bauer's daughter in 24, endlessly straying into trouble in order to give the plot a bit of extra jeopardy. Despite this, there's still enough of the pleasingly miserable and introspective Kurt Wallander in this book to make it a worthy addition to the canon, and a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2013
This is clearly the run up to the Troubled Man which is said to be the last in the series. The introduction of his daughter as a leading character put Wallander in a supporting/paralell role. A good book albeit a bit different from the others in the series. It doesn't have the same level of Wallander angst as earlier books and has less repartition than the Pyramid which is a collection of early cases building to the Faceless Killers.
I am determined to finish the series but am disappointed that the later books seem to be loosing their edge.
Since writing this in late June 2013 I have finished the Troubled Man which is the last of the series as the review comments on the book say.
I feel I need to retract my comments on the "loosing his edge" at least for the last book. The Troubled Man is an excellent read and I really do reccommend reading the series in order to what is a distrurbing and really good climax to the DCI Kurt Wallander stories.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 31 August 2006
I picked this book up by having never heard of the author before. The book was originally written in Swedish and this is an English translation, which doesn't cause any serious problems.

Linda Wallandar is a trainee Swedish police officer following in her father's foot steps (seemingly previous Mankell books have been based on this character). Linda friend Ann gets mixed up in a right wing Christian cult with murderous intentions.

This is a decent crime thriller with an interesting Swedish perspective. Characters are very well developed and although not quite a page turner, the book does happily flow throughout.

Worth investigating - 7/10.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2010
It makes sense now. I had thought that Linda seemed oddly caught up in her father's every thought and mood. I found it a bit unnatural, but if the author was trying to tie in the father because he is the character readers 'know' it makes a bit more sense.

Another reviewer pointed out that the religious fundamentalism was not conveyed as well as it could have been. So Erik wanted to rid the World of evil people, but we didn't read his full justification for killing those 'evil' people. Sometimes, religious fundamentalists are just so detached from reality, and their 'logic' is so distorted that you are almost chilled to the bone reading what they believe, and yet, their madness seems underpinned by something that you can't effectively argue against. I didn't have that feeling reading this book. Erik and his religious extremist crew weren't giving me the angry shivers.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2005
Having read several of Mankell's previous works I was looking forward to delving in to this one. Kurt Wallander mysteries are amongst the finest of 'Police procedurals', but I have to admit that I found the first Linda Wallander story somewhat fractured and plodding. May be it's the switch of main character or the religious aspects that underly the antagonists.
Essentially I'd recommend this book to any Mankell fan but for me it didn't quite live up to the eminence of 'Sidetracked' or 'Firewall'.
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