Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wallander's First Case

Wallander's First Case is the first of five short stories in Henning Mankell's The Pyramid. I came to read this book (my first by Mankell) after watching the PBS miniseries starring Kenneth Branagh that Nan at Hill Farm reviewed on her blog. You can listen to a fantastic interview with Henning Mankell in Toronto.

These five short mysteries take us back to the beginning and trace chronologically Wallander's growth from a rookie cop into a young father and then a middle-aged divorce.

In 1969, Kurt Wallander was twenty-one years of age, a young policeman, barely an adult, on his first homicide case. His next-door neighbor is dead, seemingly by his own hand. He is still a uniformed police officer in Malmo, tired of walking the streets. With a transfer to Criminal Investigation pending, his future boss encourages his involvement in the investigation. Once involved in a case, he can’t let go until he finds the answer. In this, his first case, he even calls in sick to do more investigating.

There are two problems in his personal life - one with Mona, his girlfriend who is impatient with the interference of his work. And he has issues with his father, an artist who painted the same landscape over and over. The elder Wallander strongly disapproves of his son's decision to join the police force, and frequently derides him for it.

His father has bought a house in Loderup and is moving after 19 years in this house where Wallander had grown up. Anxious that his childhood home was going to be torn down, he thought, "I am sentimental. Perhaps that's why I like opera. The questions is, can you be a good police officer if you have a tendency toward sentimentality?"

So now I've watched two episodes of the PBS series and look forward to the third next week. Apparently there is another series planned as well.


Nan said...

Oh, it is so hard to wait! I think these will be my first purchases next year! Thanks for a wonderful review, Janice. I loved reading the details of his early life. It must be so fascinating for an author to 'know' a character so well and for so long. I found out that Mankell is 22 days older than I.:<)

mm said...

I have a friend who loves the Kurt Wallander series. I am a detective story buff but so far haven't gotten into the Mankell books. Seems I need to!!