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Before the Frost Paperback – February 14, 2006

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Before the Frost + The Troubled Man + Firewall (Kurt Wallander Mysteries, No. 8)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Mankell's stellar 10th Wallander mystery, the generational torch passes from father Kurt to his equally stubborn daughter, Linda, who recently finished her police training and is anxiously awaiting her first day on the job. But a seemingly random series of events jump-starts her career and enmeshes her and her father, along with Stefan Lindman, the detective featured in The Return of the Dancing Master (2004), in a case with global ramifications. The book begins on a bizarrely disquieting note: someone is setting animals--wild swans, a farmer's calf--on fire. Then Linda begins investigating, unofficially, the disappearance of her friend Anna Westin. And the stakes for everyone are raised when Linda finds the ritualistically mutilated corpse of Birgitta Medberg, a local cultural historian. A complex (but wholly credible) narrative connects these events with a terrorist plot led by a survivor of the 1978 mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. As always with Mankell, the mystery is connected to larger issues--the decline of Swedish civility, of course, but also the danger of religious fundamentalism (the events are set in the weeks before 9/11)--but polemics never trumps suspense in this extraordinarily compelling drama. (Feb. 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Crime novelists always struggle with what to do when a successful series turns repetitive. Perhaps the wisest tack is to introduce new characters into the familiar milieu. K. C. Constantine and John Harvey have used this approach effectively, and now Mankell joins the group. Even before his superb Kurt Wallander series, starring the world-weary Swedish police detective, had lost much momentum, Mankell turned his focus to a younger cop, Stefan Lindman (The Dancing Master [BKL Mr 1 04]); now he goes one step further by turning the star billing over to Wallander's daughter, Linda, a rookie patrolman beginning work at her father's cop shop in Ystad. But even before Linda shows up for her first day, she finds herself involved in one of Kurt's investigations. When the disappearance of Linda's former best friend appears linked to a grisly murder, father and daughter must quickly learn to interact as colleagues. This is a fine thriller on its own--the plot's tentacles stretch back to cult leader Jim Jones--but Mankell's real triumph is to stay focused on Linda, a rookie cop whose expertise and worldview are entirely different from her father's, while at the same time revealing new and fascinating aspects of the curmudgeonly Kurt's character. Crime writers eager to inject new energy into a series without losing the core of their books' appeal need only consult Mankell. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (February 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400095816
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400095810
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander mysteries are global bestsellers and have been adapted for television as a BAFTA Award-winning BBC series starring Kenneth Branagh. Mankell was awarded the Crime Writers' Association's Macallan Gold Dagger and the German Tolerance Prize, among many others. He divides his time between Sweden and Mozambique.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Androo on January 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I think Henning Mankell is trying to up the ante in the Wallander books. The early books were about criminals, often loners. There was always some connection with national or world issues like immigration or racial tension, but the clever bit was how one small event in Ystad reflected world trends.
Lately though, Mankell is concentrating on more and more unlikely situations to, presumably, give the books a bigger impact. The trouble is, it has the opposite effect.
The last book, 'Firewall', had Ystad at the centre of a bunch of criminals infiltrating a computer network with the intention of world domination. It spoiled the book somewhat. In 'Before the Frost' it's a group of religious fundamentalists (how topical) with a 'grand plan'.
And I think Mankell's problem here is that even he doesn't really know what this grand plan is. So he has trouble describing it. The actions of the fundamentalists are a series of pseudo-symbolic acts, like burning animals, and putting women-who've-had-abortions to death. It's empty stuff, melodramatic, and dull. It doesn't move the plot along and feels like Mankell was struggling with his material.
The rest of the book deals with soon-to-be police officer, Linda Wallander, and her relationship with her father, our beloved Kurt. But even here, the writing is untypically stilted, and there are some downright unbelievable scenes. For instance, Linda has an argument with Kurt at the Police Station and throws a glass ashtray at him, making him bleed profusely. I didn't believe this scene at all. Much of the dialogue in the book, especially between Linda and her father, or Linda and her friends, is highly unrealistic and difficult to voice.
When Mankell gets back to the things he's good at, the novel is fine though.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By lisatheratgirl VINE VOICE on June 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a terrifying thriller, written by Henning Mankell, a Swedish mystery writer. The book is the first featuring Linda Wallander, his main character's daughter, as a police officer, and I hope he plans on writing more. The author asks at the beginning, what if one man had survived the Jonestown massacre in Guyana in 1978, and proceeds to follow that man. The plot is exciting and escalates fast into frightening, with ritual murder and sacrifice, disappearances of Linda's two best friends. Underneath, and effectively communicated, is the theme that religion can be a force for either good or evil, and it is a most powerful tool for manipulating people. This is evident all the time in the news, when countries go to war or terrorists commit mass murder, it's always "God is on our side," and who can argue with that? Religious fervor in the wrong hands can result in the worst atrocities. The book finishes on Linda's first official day of work, Sept. 11, 2001. I highly recommend this book, it's one of the best I've read this year.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By miller stevens on January 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you're a Mankell fan, you're a Wallander fan. If you think the parts of the Wallander books that don't feature Wallander were ho-hum and Return of the Dancing Master was good but Stefan is something of a Wallander rip-off, then you are about to meet heaven.
Linda Wallander is a chip off the old block. If Mankell is passing the torch down to Wallander's daughter and start a series there, he is on sure ground. She is every bit as fascinating a character as her father and since her father still features in the book, it works great.
What I especially love about this book is the way Mankell deals with their relationship. It shows Linda learning how to be a good cop, shows Wallander being his typical grumpy but brilliant self, and (as always) brings so damned much real humanity to the story that it's impossible not to feel you're participating.
Crime writers branching out with new characters is always iffy. Parker's Sunny Randall and Jesse Stone are good examples. But Mankell is giving real-time progress to his books by bringing Linda in.
It's absolutely fabulous and I can't wait to read more and more...
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on December 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is becoming nearly standard to add some life to a detective series by introducing a child of the main character (usually a daughter) as someone to follow in the footsteps of the parent. Most writers are not able to make it work (the failure of Cindy Decker in the Kellerman novels springs to mind) but Mankell makes it looks like an easy thing to do. Before the Frost succeeds remarkably well, and is one of my favorites in the Wallander series.

Mankell has a unique knack of dealing with criminals and subjects that would be too far-fetched in the hands of a lesser writer. In Before the Frost, he explores the subject of religious extremism and cults carried to criminal length. It is an interesting plot, and fits well with the general project that his books seem to have of exploring the changing state of Sweden.

Very highly recommended, either for established series readers or for people new to Kurt Wallander.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dana M. Lewis on June 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was very disappointed in Before the Frost. I found Mankell's writing to be stilted, forced even. Linda's character was so annoying and bratty that she was not fun to follow through her rookie days. I also was disappointed with how easily Mankell sold the descriptions of his other well established characters up the river through Linda's immature eyes. All of a sudden Ann-Britt wears too much make up and tight clothes? I don't know if Mankell was trying to do some kind of character study, but he lost me. Unless he allows Linda to mature and not have stupid friends and throw ashtrays, then I will consider pickin up the next novel. But my advice to those who have not read this: don't read it because you will miss Kurt Wallander as if he were dead.
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