Please note that I gave this book 1.5 stars, but rounded it up to 2 stars on Goodreads.
So I have to say that I was overall very disappointed with this look at Kurt Wallander. I started watching the BBC show and liked the character and stories a lot. Besides the same last night and backstory here and there, the two versions have very little in common. The only reason why I gave this 1.5 stars was that it was interesting to see how crimes are investigated in another country besides the US and the UK which seems to be where most crime books I have read take place.
Wallander is a police investigator working in Ystad, Sweden. He is called into investigate an assault and murder at a farm house. The elderly woman manages to say the word "foreign" which leads the police and others to suspect that whoever broke into this farm and killed these two people were foreigners. This was written during the 1990s and apparently at the time a wave of anti-foreign sentiment was rising in Sweden. A lot of illegals and those claiming asylum came to Sweden to resettle which left a lot of Swedes angry and hostile towards them. Wallander and his team are doing their best to find out who the murder or murderers or before anyone else gets hurt.
So book Wallander sucks a lot. We find out that his wife has left him before the story begins. His only daughter, Linda, is partially estranged from him and his wife. Frankly I am still baffled about that, Mankell does not really give you enough details to find out why Linda is acting the way she is. Heck he doesn't give you enough details to find out why his wife leaves Kurt besides her saying that he will understand one day.
Kurt is a failed opera singer who joined the police force against the objections of his artist father. That was enough to have me slightly interested in the character. But besides a few asides thrown here and there, it didn't seem like he was really into opera besides mentioning titles here and there and saying he was going to go and see a show. The first opera I saw blew me away and I remember the singing, the costumes, etc. Also for someone who wanted to be an opera singer, Kurt seems to like to stay in the shadows and not be the certain of attention. It says several dozen times how much he hates giving interviews to the press so the whole character felt like a contradiction up until the end of the book.
Also I hope you like hearing about what alcohol Kurt is drinking and how his diet seems to cause him to have diarrhea a lot. Seriously, there are mentions of him on the toilet a bunch. I just shook my head. I started to even wonder at his appeal since he does not seem to be that smart. This is a straight police procedural with a lot of dumb luck involved to catch the perpetrators.
Wallander's characterization flip flops all throughout this book too. He mentions a few times his feelings on foreigners in Sweden and he shows that he is xenophobic. But then sometimes he is not and is angry at how very little the refugee agencies seems to be doing. He meets the new prosecutor in the office a married woman that he decides he is in love with after meeting her once and disliking her (no I am not kidding you). He pretty much transfers his affections he has for his soon to be ex wife onto this other woman and there is a really gross scene later in the book where he manhandles and comes onto her. But apparently sending her flowers the next day was enough for all to be forgiven. Blech.
The writing felt stale and repetitive after a while. I don't know if that was part of the translation issue or what. But I was sick of reading about how cold it was everyday and how the sky looked. Based on this book Sweden sounds like it is always cold, wet, and lonely.
The flow of the book was glacial. Seriously. It feels like there is nothing happening for a good portion of the book. There were a dozen red herrings throughout this book and when you get to the final reveal, I was ultimately disappointed with it.
The setting of Sweden was a nice change of pace for me to read about. But I think I will have to check out some other authors because based on this, this version of Sweden is not one I want to go to.
I read this for the 12 Tasks of the Festive Season, Task the Second: The Silent Nights: