This is the fave thriller of a friend of mine, I found it on one of the free bookshelves around town and gave it a try.
I read quite a few of the Wallander cases as a teen, but I mostly only remember the gory violence and not much else. While not a Wallander case, this definitely doesn’t disappoint either when it comes to cruel ways to die.
A former police man is found flogged to death in his house somewhere in the Swedish boondocks, bloody footsteps on the floor suggesting he was forced to dance a tango while bleeding to death. One of his former colleagues from out of town, Stefan, who struggles with his recent cancer diagnosis and how it affects his relationship with his older girlfriend, decides to get involved with the investigation to distract himself, but also to find answers to who this old man really was. While doing that he discovers a network of not-so-hidden old school Nazis and Führer-idolising wankstains.
I did finish the book, so it’s not BAD, there is suspense and especially in the end you get drawn in. A lot of Mankell’s writing feels like it was written with the TV-movie already in mind, which isn’t necessarily something bad, it’s very cinematographic in its action and despite the many settings you always know where you are and have an easy time visualising the place.
It’s also predictable af. The mystery itself is, but the way it’s told doesn’t help either, you’re constantly taken by the hand and told: the main character is thinking this now, this is important. How did he get to this conclusion? Either someone told him that exact thing two sentences up and he’s repeating it, or nebulous “police instincts”. There are so many opportunities to mess with the reader a little bit, but Mankell never takes them. It’s all very straightforward man-solves-crime and while the societal problems are touched and there’s a bit of a personal stake for Stefan too, it’s never developed in anything interesting.
So yeah, while mildly entertaining and a good night read (if you don’t mind violence), it mostly feels like a missed opportunity.