Friday, December 02, 2011

Before the Frost by Henning Mankell

Like father, like daughter. At least, it is that way in the world of Kurt Wallander. In Before the Frost by Henning Mankell, Wallander's daughter Linda has just finish police school and is about to join the Ystad Police. Like her father, Linda can not keep from breaking the rules. In fact, she starts breaking them before she actually joins the force. Like her father, she is drawn into dangerous situations without adequate preparation.

As in many of his other Wallander books, Mankell describes the Swedish village of Ystad as a place that is provincial with petty problems, but it is also a magnet for international troubles. He begins the book in 1978 with a story about an unnamed man escaping the mass suicide at the People's Temple, Jim Jones colony's in Guyana and finding his way to Cleveland, Ohio. The setting then shifts to fall 2001 and a small flat where Linda is staying with her father until she begins to earn a salary. Wallander is an unpredictable and hot tempered housemate, who at least does know how to apologize after each outburst. Linda hangs out with friends to kill time until one of them disappears. She then begins to discover some very odd people in strange places, and readers eventually begin to see the significance of the initial story.

Wallander mysteries are not by any means cozy, and Before the Frost describes some very grisly crimes. Fans enjoy them for their intricate puzzles and their intensity. Reading them in order is ideal but not absolutely necessary. Try any one that you find on the library shelf.

Mankell, Henning. Before the Frost. New Press, 2005. 383p. ISBN 1565848357.

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