Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Autumnal thriller, 3 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Before The Frost: 10 (Kurt Wallander) (Paperback)
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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