Dojora I have read a lot of crime fiction and think that, if I ranked them, this would be in the top half of the list. It led to some unnecessary descriptions of things that offered no bearing or clarification. So much more to read. I was in the process of reading several other books, as well as, you know, living my life, but I was completely sidetracked from all these other projects in order to read sidetrackked book as quickly as possible. My only real complaint about this book is that the transitions between scenes or ending conversations were a little clunky and awkward.
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The looming question, of course, is: sidetracked from what? Mankell asks this question in this, his 5th in the Wallander series.
The subject is Kurt Wallander. This is his job as a police officer. For most writers this is enough to confidently concoct a plot that would satisfy most crime readers, but not for Mankell. In the tradition of Per and Maj, the godfathers of police procedurals in this neck of the woods, Henning Mankell adheres to the realism evangelized by this duo of authors. The killings are the carrot leading Kurt by the nose: but the reality, Mankell tells us, is that life interrupts. It gets you sidetracked.
It is this realism surrounding the characterization of Kurt Wallander that has as one reviewer puts it: made Henning Mankell the greatest export from Sweden aside from IKEA. A simple example of this might be found near the beginning of the novel.
On the drive over, Kurt is invigorated by the beautiful day. Contentment does not come often to Wallander but it is present on this fine day. He rolled down the window. The yellow rapeseed fields billowed on both sides of the road. In the distance he caught a glimpse of the sea. Everywhere he looked were yellow rapeseed fieds. The woman was about fifty meters away out in the rapeseed field. The woman was standing completely still, watching him.
When he got closer he saw that not only did she have long black hair, but her skin was dark too. It stood out sharply against the yellow field. He stopped when he reached the edge of the field. He raised one hand and tried to wave her over. She continued to stand utterly motionless. Even though she was still quite far from him and the billowing rapeseed hid her face every so often, he had the impression that she was quite beautiful.
He started walking towards her. Then he stopped short. And everything happened very fast. She raised a plastic jug over her head and started pouring a colorless liquid over her hair, her face, and her body.
He had a fleeting thought that she must have been carrying it the whole time. And now he could tell she was terrified. Her eyes were wide open and she was staring straight at him. At the same moment a smell of gasoline wafted toward him. Suddenly she had a flickering cigarette lighter in one hand, which she touched to her hair.
Wallander cried out as she burst into flame like a torch. Paralyzed, he watched her lurch around the field as the fire sizzled and blazed over her body. Wallander could hear himself screaming. Numerous examples of this occur throughout the novel, and we might even say that the entire novel is a stitching of character traits against horrific events.
We might find Kurt enjoying a moment of pure happiness as he closes the bedroom door on the sleeping form of his daughter who has come to visit him. This, while unknown to Kurt our killer in possession of keys to the apartment waits for them to go to sleep. Yes, Kurt is a man who makes mistakes. We all get distracted by life. But that is precisely what makes him human, what makes Walander so attractive as our hero. This novel falls into the category of a police procedural.
And, as we know is often the case with procedurals the antagonist is known to the reader before he or she is known to Wallander. In fact, the novel opens with a chapter where we enter the mind of our killer. Distracted is a story about how a crime is solved, with numerous convergences and yes, distractions. It is not a mystery that eludes the reader. That it nevertheless is a veritable page turner second-to-none speaks to the artistry of Henning Mankell. He is married to Eva Bergman. Henning Mankell - Author It might be said that the fall of communism and the consequent increase in Swedish immigration and asylum seekers has been the engine that drives much of Swedish crime fiction.
It is no exaggeration when I say that Henning Mankell is by far one of the most successful writers in Scandinavia, especially in his own country of Sweden. The Nordic weather, cold to the bones, drives its populace indoors for much of the year where cuddling up to read the latest in crime fiction is a national pastime.
It is largely quantified as police procedural work. The work of men who are dogged and patient to a fault. Understandably so and if some of the GR reviews are an indication; like his famous father-in-law Ingmar Bergman, Mankell is from a country noted for its Nordic gloom. But before you make the assumption that this is yet another addition to the somberness and darkness that characterizes Nordic writing Mankell often confounds this cliche with guarded optimism and passages crammed with humanity for Mankell, this is true both personally and professionally as a writer.
As Americans we often think of Sweden as possessing an very open attitude towards sex and that this is in marked contrast or perhaps reprieve to the somber attitudes of its populace. But this is a view that often confounds Swedish people. For any reader of Nordic crime fiction, Henning Mankell is an immensely popular and staple read.
HENNING MANKELL SIDETRACKED PDF