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Swedish writer Henning Mankell is most famous for his Kurt Wallander police procedurals. His protagonist works with an ensemble of other officers to solve complicated conundrums which add up to classic page-turners.
Wallander is a deft and intuitive detective who speaks to his dead mentor while he tries to separate clues from red herrings and the innocent from the guilty. He is introspective, brooding, quick to anger and quick to get over it. His personal life is a wreck but as long as he can see his daughter from time to time he manages.
Ironically Mankell's 2008 novel does not star Wallander nor is it a procedural. Rather THE EYE OF THE LEOPARD is a picaresque story of a Swedish boy who loses his best friend to a near fatal accident and then decides to fulfill the dream of the woman who taught him how to experience sex. She wanted to live and help at a mission station in the wilds of Africa. This altruistic journey which began after independance lasts eighteen years allowing our hero to grow into an intuitive and observant individual. He is always conscious of the silent drumbeats that vibrate under his consciousness. The book is excellent as are his others.
Henning Mankell splits his time between Sweden and Maputo, Mozambique where he is the director of the Teatro Avenida.
I've never read any Mankell, but I saw one police thriller on BBC TV last night, called "Faceless Killers".
Various thoughts struck me:
First that the story line was interesting enough, and competently produced, but was not essentially different from an episode of George Gently or Dalziel & Pascoe. Why has Britain imported more of the same, and filmed this story in Sweden? Is the couleur locale aspect of the half-light filming in gloomy Sweden the attraction, because filming abroad costs heaps more money? They could have filmed it all in Britain as no one in the UK would even have noticed that it is set in the south of Sweden, as could be seen from the name of the bank, etc., because for most Brits all they want is the blood, guts and the puzzle, and don't care a damn whether it's filmed in Ystad or Maputo.
Another oddly tacked on aspect was the politically correct lecture the audience got about being nice to immigrants. The asylum seekers' camp was partly relevant, but gave Mankell the chance to preach about how some Swedes, although nice people, are rather racist if you scratch the surface. The trick was to suggest, then not to suggest, that an immigrant could have perpetrated the murder. The rather sudden twist at the end puzzled me, as it seemed rather loosely attached to the rest of the story. I won't spoil the story, but the d?nouement was a bit facile.
Is this the new way of producing crime series: using them as a not very covert way of adopting the high moral ground and lecturing the audience of plebs about race relations, or sexism, or homophobia, or ageism, or things like that? In the days when all the suspects were upper class, e.g. the butler, the Lord of the Manor, the chambermaid, the equerry, Lady Mistress of Nextdoor, and all the rest from a jolly unreal manor house, you could concentrate on the plot without having to worry about the upstairs-downstairs aspect too much. Nowadays, crime writers seem obsessed with political correctness, or trying to spring a surprise with a double bluff, where the accused comes from precisely one of the "protected catagories".
And, why can't Brits manage to say: val-AND-er. It's isn't so excruciatingly foreign. Who put the wally in WOLL-in-der? He keeps shooting people dead. Not like the Swedes I know. Trying to ape his father-in-law, no doubt. The author, I mean. But in a more realistical way. No weird atmosphere, just bang-bang, splat-splat, blood, blood, pills-pills, agonise-agonise. The surname is pronounced MANG-el, by the way.
I think Henning Mankell will be on the next Ship to Gaza. The flotilla sails the third week of June.
The surname is pronounced MANG-el, by the way.
Are you sure about that? Sounds to me as if you're mang-eling his name. There's a Scots word "manky" which means unsavoury, yukky.
"Who's taking my name in vain?" said Handsome Henning:
"If you don't stop taking the piss, I'll put you through the mangle."
Here's a serious article about Henning "Wallander" Mankell and Ship to Gaza:
And another, about the whole convoy:
It's still Ships to Gaza time for Henning Mankell. He's just back from Greece where the Greeks refused to let the activists' ship to set sail for the Gaza Strip. At a press conference back in Sweden, Mankell says that Greece has sold its soul. He says that the Israeli blockade will collapse in the way apartheid did.
A far cry from Wallander crime novels. See:
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