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The Pyramid: Kurt Wallander
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on 11 April 2009
This book contains 5 short stories involving the Swedish detective who was recently bought to our screens by the BBC with Kenneth Branagh in the lead role. in 'Wallander's First Case' the young policeman investigates the sudden death of a neighbour. 'The Man with the Mask' is a brilliant example of how a routine call can threaten to turn into a tragedy for a policeman as the now married Wallander walks into a seige situation. 'The Man on the Beach' finds the body of a tourist in the back of a taxi cab and Kurt and his team have to try to recreate the last known movements of the victim. 'The Death of the Photographer' has a seemingly unassuming local business man beaten to death in his studio with no clear motive available. Lastly, 'The Pyramid' sees a light aircraft crash and raises the suspicion of a drug run, whilst Wallander and his colleagues are shocked at the brutul death of two elderly sisters who ran a sewing shop.

Each story details the ordinary work the police do, running down evidence, interviewing friends and neighbours and painstakingly piecing together the reasons behind a crime. The stories are an excellent introduction to the full length novels by Henning Mankell and we get some background on Kurt, his wife (and eventually ex-wife Mona) and daughter Linda - as well as his difficult and demanding artist father whose grip on reality appears to be failing.

Hunt down a copy of this book - it will lead you straight on to the others in the series.
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on 15 July 2014
Having watched both the BBC and Swedish TV adaptations I was eager to read one of the novels on which they were based on. I chose this as it contained short stories that were prequels to the first proper novel. All of whch I was unfamiliar with. They all give an insight into the charcter you see in the TV adaptations. The best two stories are also the longest two stories. Both of which are more like novellas than short stories. The final novella 'The Pyramid' is especially good and is a direct prequel to the first novel. I would say that his was the best story and the book is worth buying for this alone. The character is very much like the character you see in the adaptations. The first story is when he first joins the police force and it is interesting to see the character as a much younger man trying to get to grips with police work. I would highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more of the Wallander novels.
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on 11 April 2009
This book contains 5 short stories involving the Swedish detective who was recently bought to our screens by the BBC with Kenneth Branagh in the lead role. in 'Wallander's First Case' the young policeman investigates the sudden death of a neighbour. 'The Man with the Mask' is a brilliant example of how a routine call can threaten to turn into a tragedy for a policeman as the now married Wallander walks into a seige situation. 'The Man on the Beach' finds the body of a tourist in the back of a taxi cab and Kurt and his team have to try to recreate the last known movements of the victim. 'The Death of the Photographer' has a seemingly unassuming local business man beaten to death in his studio with no clear motive available. Lastly, 'The Pyramid' sees a light aircraft crash and raises the suspicion of a drug run, whilst Wallander and his colleagues are shocked at the brutul death of two elderly sisters who ran a sewing shop.

Each story details the ordinary work the police do, running down evidence, interviewing friends and neighbours and painstakingly piecing together the reasons behind a crime. The stories are an excellent introduction to the full length novels by Henning Mankell and we get some background on Kurt, his wife (and eventually ex-wife Mona) and daughter Linda - as well as his difficult and demanding artist father whose grip on reality appears to be failing.

Hunt down a copy of this book - it will lead you straight on to the others in the series
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VINE VOICEon 28 December 2010
Does the sun ever shine in Skane? Will our hero ever get a grip on his life and start looking after himself? Will there be no end to the gruesome murders in what we previously assumed to be a peaceful backwater of Sweden? Probably not. Mankell understands that what we want in stories is the opposite of what we want in our own lives. So these stories are full of uncertainty, tension, insomnia, conflict, menace, and having to put an old telephone directory in your toilet because you've forgotten to buy toilet rolls. There are five stories in this book, culminating in the eponymous 'Pyramid', which is almost a full length novel in itself. They trace Wallander's journey from being a young Malmo beat officer trying to solve a mysterious murder in his spare time to the middle aged Ystad Detective Inspector familiar to us from the other novels and the three TV series. (A series of detective novels that spawns three separate TV series - two Swedish and one English - has to be special.) They introduce us to most of the characters in Kurt Wallander's family and working life who will feature in the later stories. The stories in this book contain the seeds of all of those characteristics we have come to expect from the other stories - the crumbling, insomniac, workaholic DI, who can never get his work-life balance or his personal relationships right; the unspeakably heartless crimes that open a trap door over that black hole that is the human psyche; and of course, the mind-numbing banality of forgetting to buy toilet rolls. Don't ya just love it!

ps. I just saw a TV episode of Wallander that was supposed to be based on this book and had the same title. One or two events were similar, but most of it was completely different. This may be of interest to those of you who are thinking: I'd read this story if I hadn't just seen it on TV. You didn't. Read this book; it's different.
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VINE VOICEon 17 March 2010
It is a long time now since I read the final full-length Wallander novel. His long-term absence from my reading list has been a source of consternation. Yet I put off reading 'The Pyramid' because I'm not a great fan of short stories. I was also worried that these prequel tales would sully my memories of what had come before (or perhaps that should be after...?). My fears were misplaced.

Firstly, these short stories are still fairly long - the shortest weighs in at around fifty pages, and the title story is over 250 pages long; more a novella than a short story. Secondly, the stories are all very good, filling in the details of Wallander's journey up to the start of Faceless Killers.

The stories are not perfect. Some of the references to what is to come are laid on with a trowel. Mankell is the master of understatement, something I like about the Wallander novels. He normally leaves gaps for the reader to fill, but here spells everything out. The stories may not be perfect, but they are still excellent. Mankell offers vignettes of Sweden's changing society, showing a gradual decline into the chaos that Wallander will be forced to confront in the opening full-length novel. As I expected, I preferred the meatier stories, but I still enjoyed the shorter ones. These are less mysteries to be solved, and more glimpses of a fracturing society.

Once again, the reader is treated to detective fiction with a social conscience, and as ever, Mankell's moral compass is unerring. Wallander is once of the genre's finest creations, and 'The Pyramid' a worthy addition to his legacy.
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on 1 August 2010
This was my introduction to Kurt Wallender and I literally could not put the book down. The Kurt Wallender novels were recommended by a member of the book group to which I belong, and while browsing Amazon to order one I came across this book. I thought it would make a good introduction to the character, focussing as it does on Wallender's early years. I was right. Don't be put off by the fact that these are described as short stories. They are, in fact, quite lengthy and the characters are very thoroughly developed, the investigations detailed and gripping and the character of Kurt Wallender leaps from the page. If you like your thrillers to be full of vivid, unnecessary unpleasantness then these stories will not be for you. There is unpleasantness here in the crimes and the reasons behind them but there is no graphic, gratuitous and explicit nastiness. Mankell does not need to stoop to these lengths to grip the reader from the first to the last page. If you like a thriller which is extremely well written and atmospheric both in terms of the crimes and the setting (Sweden at its darkest) then you have a treat in store. If you enjoy these stories as much as I did then you finish the book on a high, knowing that you have all the Kurt Wallender novels to look forward to.
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on 31 July 2010
This book of short stories about Wallander is just as good as one of the longer novels. We follow him during his early police career. The stories show several dramatic events happen to him, helping us to understand the man he becomes in later life. In the younger Wallander we can see many of the character traits he has in the longer books. The stories show him making mistakes and trying to learn from them. I loved the fact that he has obviously always been inept when dealing with women and completely undomesticated. At one point he carries his dirty washing back and forth in the boot of his car several times before he manages to get it washed! And always the ongoing theme of the changes taking place in Swedish society and the darkness hidden at it's core. Highly recommended if you love the other 'Wallander' books.
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on 12 August 2015
I bought this book AND Wallander's First Case without knowing that the latter is included in the former. There's no warning about that. I am not so keen on the short story format but Mankell's work itself is not disappointing. I wouldn't advise anyone starting on the Wallander journey to begin here - go for one of the early novels and work your way forward and backwards from here. I do find the character of Wallander's father intriguing but it feels as though a different person is being described at different points in the series. I'm tempted to re-read with this character in mind. And if you haven't ventured into Mankell's non-Wallander literature, perhaps you should.
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on 17 January 2013
I have read nearly all of mankells books , so the pyramid was a follow onto all his other stories , telling us all of his previous life and rise thrugh the police ranks , his books are best read in order to enable the reader to follow not just wallanders cases ,but also his relationship, with his colleages , girl friends ex wife, daughter etc , I personally was hooked on them read the lot , and very disappointed they came to an end I am now reading some of his other books , but they do not match up to Wallander.
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on 16 June 2009
For regular readers of Henning Mankell this is a must...it creates a past for Wallander that is not given when "Faceless Killers" opens and cleverly links together other persons and events from his"life" in the spaces between the novels.Clever(perhaps a little commercially exploitative?) and readable..and themematically strong on Mankell's abiding sense of democratic Sweden's anxieties from the '90's onwards...can they maintain both a welfare state and democracy as the world around them impinges on Sweden and "home" becomes a more worrying and disturbing place.
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