This might seem like an odd thing to write but after an experience like Castle in the Forest you want something to read that is relaxing and for me a thriller always fits the bill. After enjoying Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo it seemed like a good idea to head back to the Nordics for another tale of murder and police procedure.
Henning Mankell is famous for creating Kurt Wallander – a detective who is recently divorced, estranged from his daughter and almost facing a breakdown in relations with his father. On top of that there are moments when you get an insight into his state of health and his taste in classical music.
If there is one feature of a good thriller it should be that no matter how slow the action appears to be there should be some sense of a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter. Here there is the bonus of one on almost every other page as the scene is set as an elderly farmer wakes up in the early hours of a cold January morning to look out of his window and realise that something is wrong over at his neighbours.
He tells his wife and then goes over to discover his neighbours in a horrific state with the husband butchered and the wife clinging on tied up with a noose around her neck.
The police are called and Wallander comes to investigate and has his stomach turned by what he sees in the house. The problem is they have no leads to go on. The surviving woman is rushed to hospital and Wallander keeps his fingers crossed she survives.
In the course of the following day some more of the detective’s back-story is filled in with his daughter Linda phoning up but then disappearing again. Wallander is also nagged by his father to visit.
In terms of the case some work is done on house-to-house but no one seems to know anything. The hope is that the old woman will survive and tell her story.
She dies and Wallander is called back to the station to be told by a colleague what she said in her last ten minutes.