And Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries
The story of the Swedish detective’s beginnings, told in five gripping short mysteries: “An indispensable chapter to the saga” (Booklist Online).
Here are the stories that trace, chronologically, Kurt Wallander’s growth from a rookie cop into a young father and then a middle-aged divorcé, illuminating how he became a first-rate detective and highlighting new facets of the character who “remains one of the most impressive and credible creations of crime fiction today” (The Guardian).
“Wallander’s First Case” introduces us to the twenty-one-year-old patrolman on his first homicide case: his next-door neighbor, seemingly dead by his own hand. In “The Man with the Mask”, Wallander is a young father confronting an unexpected threat on Christmas Eve. On the brink of middle age, he is troubled by a distant wife as he unravels the poisoning of a lonely vacationer in “The Man on the Beach.” Newly separated in “The Death of the Photographer,” Wallander investigates the brutal murder—and the well-concealed secrets—of the local studio photographer. In the title story, he is a veteran detective uncovering unexpected connections between a downed mystery plane and the assassination of a pair of elderly sisters.
Written from the unique perspective of an author looking back on the life of his own character, these mysteries are vintage Henning Mankell and essential reading for fans of the fiction series or the BBC program Wallander starring Kenneth Branagh. The Pyramid is a wonderful display of Mankell’s virtuosity powers as “the unrivalled master of Swedish crime fiction and one of the finest practitioners of the genre anywhere” (Toronto Star).
The five stories in this outstanding collection from Mankell (Faceless Killers) provide glimpses into Kurt Wallander's early life as a policeman as well as paint evocative portraits of contemporary Swedish society. An unremarkable businessman is poisoned in "The Man on the Beach" but in typical Mankell fashion the case is larger, more complex and more interesting than it first appears. In the volume's best entry, "The Death of the Photographer," Simon Lamberg takes studio portraits of weddings and children, but a couple of nights each week, he uses his darkroom to distort published photographs of politicians and newsworthy people for a macabre personal scrapbook. It's a bizarre hobby, but the cause of Lamberg's brutal, apparently senseless death is an even stranger puzzle. Like the Wallander novels, these stories rank among the finest police procedurals being written today.
This was such an outstanding book that I greatly enjoyed reading. It was so nice to read about Kurt’s earlier life, as a young, single policeman, his first cases, his extraordinary skills as a detective, his eager willingness to take risks to solve crimes, his endearing humanity yet troubled relationships with his own father and wife, his honesty and surprising vulnerability expressed in his thoughts. I love the series and have watched all the episodes many times, with different actors in the lead role.