Sidetracked: Kurt Wallander Paperback – 5 Sep 2002
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"The Swedish summer-time is too beautiful and too brief for something like this to happen." A young girl commits self-immolation, a former government minister is killed with an axe and scalped; these are the two brutal facts that confront Inspector Kurt Wallander as he prepares for his holiday. As the Swedish midsummer approaches there is no escaping from the darkness of society.
Sidetracked, the fifth of Henning Mankell's acclaimed Kurt Wallander mysteries, and the second to be translated into English, is an engrossing police procedural. The hard-boiled Kurt Wallander has softened slightly since he was first introduced in Faceless Killers, the first title in the series. He drinks less, has more functional relationships and has developed a faith in his investigative team. Despite this, it is his other qualities as a character, his philosophical angst and his intuitive pursuit of hunches, which drive this novel as Wallander struggles to discover the leads that will trap the killer.
Mankell manages to squeeze in serious comments on the state of Swedish society. The over-stretched police force, child prostitution and the corruption of high politics, all come under the scrutiny of Wallander's wearied gaze as he struggles to come to terms with the new violence of his society. This is a dark novel peppered with genuinely nasty violence, but it is Wallander's struggle to uncover the truth and face his own demons that provide the real thrills. --Iain Robinson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Wallander's investigations are perfectly judged to create a thrilling mood of growing tension culminating in a satisfying climax" (The Times)
"Wonderfully bleak thrillers...somehow unremitting and gripping at the same time" (Sean French Independent)
"Mankell is one of the most ingenious crime writers around. Highly recommended" (Observer)
"Sweden's answer to Morse and Wexford" (Mail on Sunday)
"Gripping... Expert plotting" (Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
What makes a Mankell book so special is the mix of plot, suspense and characterisation of the main characters but in particular Wallender.
In this story Wallender's private life is on the up. His daughter comes to visit him and their relationship so bad in previous novels is now strong. He plans a trip to Italy with his father and he looks forward to the holiday with his new love Baiba.
This is all in complete contrast to the investigation that he heads up, that of multiple violent murders and a suicide of a young girl.
What makes these books special is that you follow Wallenders thought process as he churns the facts, his suspicions and theories. Can he link the murderers, is his investigation heading in the right direction or is it sidetracked by normal police process.
I never rush a Mankell novell. I read every word as there is something to be revealed in nearly every line.
The best police and crime series you can read. It puts the others in the shade.
Sidetracked goes back to the bread and butter of police procedurals, which is by no means a bad thing. Gone are the days of international mischief that have peppered previous novels. Wallander and his team of well-established characters are involved in two cases, which at first do not appear to be related and are committed in the vicinity of Skane - a series of murders involving scalping and the gruesome suicide of a young lady.
There is also a greater insight into Wallander's personal life. His relationships with members of his family begin to warm and his love interest - Baipa - gets a greater mention in this book, which is welcome.
Overall, an excellent Wallander outing. It's easy to see why this book is award-winning
That aside, this is cracking stuff: gruesome murders, fascinating characters, blind alleys, and that typical rush at the end when everything finally falls into place. All the Wallander novels are excellent - this one is probably one of the better ones.
Shortly after the girl's death a retired Swedish Minister of Justice is murdered by someone who smashes his head with an ax and then takes his scalp. Wallander and his team are on the case, but have no obvious suspects. For the remainder of the book, the P.O.V. switches back and forth between Wallander and the killer who is on a mission that becomes clearer as the book progresses. As it does, a couple more men will be murdered and scalped and it becomes pretty clear that neither Wallander nor anyone else on his team will be going on vacation anytime soon.
This is another very intriguing and entertaining entry in the series and, as always, it allows Mankell to make observations about a number of social issues. There are a number of troubled families in this book, for example, including Wallander's own. His difficult relationship with his daughter, Linda, has significantly improved, but his father is slowly sinking into dementia and Wallander realizes that they will have little time to repair their fragile relationship.
The plot is compelling and moves along swiftly; as always the characters are very interesting, and all in all, this is a book that should appeal to large numbers of crime fiction fans.
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