Monday, July 17, 2006

06.25 Before The Frost by Henning Mankell

Before The Frost (2002) by Henning Mankell
Trade, Vintage Canada, 375 pp.

Henning Mankell is a Swedish mystery author who I've been a fan of for many years. He writes fairly restrained stories that often rely more on the persistence of his detective hero to solve the crime rather than any intuitive gymnastics.

In this novel, Before The Frost, the pattern that he has established before is broken and not in a good way. The detective hero, Kurt Wallender, is a laconic late middle-aged single guy, who pretty much goes his own way in solving crimes. In this book the author has introduced his daughter, who has recently graduated from police Academy. A number of seemingly unrelated crimes have taken place, one of which is the disappearance of this woman's friend. Eventually we find out that there is a common thread. The novel switches back between the perspective of the daughter and the inspector.

Unfortunately, the author seems to have read a little too much Da Vinci Code. He mixes in this incredibly unrealistic, Jim Jones massacre survivor and the hyper-religious society that he has formed. As more and more of the plot is revealed I became less and less interested in the book.

As this is one of the later Mankell novels, I think that he is trying to create a transition where the older detective gets edged out of the stories and his daughter will be the new heroine. I am still a fan of these tightly plotted Swedish mystery novels, but unfortunately this one really missed the mark.

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