From Publishers Weekly
Mankell, known in this country for his Kurt Wallander police procedurals (Faceless Killers
; The Dogs of Riga
), sets this intricate, stand-alone tale of murder and intrigue in the vast pine forests of north-central Sweden. Stefan Lindman, a 37-year-old policeman in the city of Boras, sees his life, both professional and personal, as absolutely ordinary. Then he discovers a strange lump on his tongue; it's cancer, and his life changes dramatically. At the doctor's office he picks up a discarded newspaper and reads that former colleague Herbert Molin has been murdered in the northern forests. Because Lindman needs to take his mind off his upcoming cancer treatment, he decides to investigate Molin's death. As the details of the crime come to light, Lindman realizes he never knew the real Molin. The plot involves the secret world of Nazis, both past and present. The prose can be cold and spare, at least in translation: "There was a smell of paint in the house. All the lights were on. Lindman had to bow his head when he entered through the door." The unrelenting Lindman turns out to be an innovative investigator, though those seeking fast-paced action rather than meticulous introspection will be disappointed. Secrets are slowly and methodically teased from the evidence, and by the satisfying end readers with a taste for the unusual will find Lindman, and the mystery he solves, not in the least bit ordinary.
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Mankell's Kurt Wallander series is one of the quintessential new European procedurals, pitting a melancholy Swedish detective against a hate-filled contemporary world. Wallander is absent here, but the unremitting horror of modern life continues to take its toll, this time on a different crew of overmatched Swedish cops. A younger version of Wallander, Stefan Lindman faces a host of personal demons, not the least of which is his recent diagnosis of mouth cancer. On leave and unwilling to face up to his illness, he decides to travel to the small village of Sveg, where a retired colleague, Herbert Molin, has been murdered. Helping to investigate the crime, Lindman is shocked to discover that Molin was a lifelong Nazi. Suddenly, Lindman's alternative "therapy" has landed him in the middle of an international ring of neo-Nazis. As always, Mankell tells somber, deeply pessimistic stories about widespread hatred lurking below the multicultural surface, but at the same time, he never fails to find a rich vein of humanity deep within the perpetually furrowed brows of his troubled cops. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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