On October 5th died Henning Mankell, a Swedish author. He was one of my favoirite mystery writers.
Among my old files I found this piece. I wrote back in 2006. It was an opening blog to announce a series of articles called “Blood Drops on Snow and Ice”, dedicated to Nordic noir and its most prominent representatives.
“If you would like to enjoy a first class murder mystery, you might want to check out the crime fiction coming out of Scandinavia.
Crime writers from the north of Europe have made a terrific impact on contemporary mystery fiction in the last decade or so, and they have been steadily growing in popularity.
Nordic mysteries have a special appeal that probably comes from their “reverse exoticism”: put together icy rain and northern wind, long winter nights, perpetual bleakness and the ferocity of the crimes … and out come stories darker and more horrific than those from more colorful settings.
To understand the popularity of the “Scandinavian school”, you have to start with Henning Mankell, whose books have sold millions of copies all around the world. Mankell’s most popular work is a series of mysteries featuring detective inspector Kurt Wallander from Ystad, a town 60 km south-east of Malmo, in the southern province of Skane, in Sweden.
Wallander is an insomniac who smokes and drinks too much. He is a depressed and lonely cynic filled with despair and self-doubt. He is also a decent and intelligent man. Divorced, emotionally vulnerable, firmly grounded only in his job, he looks pretty much like his literary predecessor, Ian Rankin’s John Rebus.
The first published novel in the series is “Faceless Killers” from 1991. In 1999 Mankell, however, published “The Pyramid”, chronologically the first story in the series, where we meet young Wallander and follow him through his first cases, his marriage and divorce.
If you plan to read the series from the beginning, it might be a good idea to start with “The Pyramid”. It’s not among the best in the series, but it gives you a few clues to help understand the Wallander you are going to meet and love in later novels.”
Mankell closed the series in 2011 with “Troubled Man”. He was also a children’s author and dramatist.
Image courtesy of Ryan Pohanic and Unsplash