I like Mankell, but this book seems to have fallen into the "Silence-of-the-Lambs-Syndrome" that seems to have become endemic. It's not enough to have someone get killed in the heat of passion or for greed. Now killers have to have killed hundreds, kill animals, butcher little children, bring about the end of the world, etc., etc. I hate to break it to these authors, but evil is much more prosaic and often very subtle. You don't have to create monsters to write intelligently. Adolf Eichmann was the guy next door who was just really good at paperwork. OK, enough ranting.
Just how much do we know about our close friends; even our family. That might be one theme of this Wallender novel. Linda Wallender takes center stage. Two threads start the book: a man is setting swans alight and Anna, Linda’s friend has disappeared shortly after insisting she has just seen her father who hasn’t been heard from in 25 years. A third strand is added when a woman whose life's work has been to explore and catalog old pilgrim trails disappears, only to be found dismembered in a small cabin in the woods.
It's not too hard to predict that those threads will all wind together soon. Kurt and Linda are equally irascible but have worked out a precarious truce. Linda, recent graduate of the police academy, hasn't been yet assigned to begin work at a station so she spends her time trying to track down Anna. Wallender is a harsh father who has trouble relating to his daughter and she has little patience with her father although both try to find an accommodation as Linda, with the curiosity of a seasoned detective, inserts herself into her father's formal investigation, much to his dismay and irritation.
[SPOILER, well, hardly a spoiler since it's revealed way early, and if you read the book's description there are spoilers out the wazoo, but...] The best parts of the book are investigative; the worst the insertion of Jim Jones and his relationship to one of the characters. That was unnecessary and dumb. Not worthy of Mankell. It almost seemed as if Mankell had to say something about Jones and this was his vehicle.
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