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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Sacred Cows must Graze in Peace", May 7, 2010
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This review is from: The Man Who Smiled: A Kurt Wallander Mystery (4) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) (Paperback)
In "The Man Who Smiled" Swedish mystery writer Henning Mankell's alter ego, Detective Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander of the Ystad police has been on leave from his job for over a year. He had to kill a man in the line of duty, but the event has caused deep depression and bouts of binge drinking. Readers of this detective series will recall that even in the best of times Wallander was an unhappy, melancholy person, a sad sack of a Swede, introspective, lonely, and aimless most of the time except when pursuing a case. The book is shrouded in the fog of "Swedish gloom."
He's in bad shape, but he snaps out of it when a lawyer acquaintance of his who had sought his help was found murdered. Only a few weeks before the lawyer's father, also a lawyer had been killed in a car crash after visiting the castle of his client, the unscrupulous international millionaire businessman, Alfred Harderberg.
When he gets back to work, Wallander learns something that readers already know from the book's hook: the father was murdered.
From the get-go we know who the one responsible for the murders is so this isn't a whodunit, but a will-they-be able-to-catch-the-culprit mystery. It has a very long, intensive, slow-moving investigation. Hired killers try to knock off one of the witnesses with a land mine planted in her garden, and Wallander barely escapes death when an explosive device is planted in his car, and the vehicle is destroyed.
Wallander's father has been painting and selling duplicates of the same landscape, some with a grouse and some without, for decades. When he's tracking down a killer, Wallander feels he's on a mission just as does Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch or the Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo's detective Harry Hole. All three have rather difficult and lonely personal lives.
In this one promising detective Ann-Britt Hoglund, has joined the force, and she helps Wallander in his investigation. Wallander, to the distress of readers interviews the lawyer's secretary a few too many times. Mankell's books are slow-moving, very methodical procedurals.
The man the cops are going after, Alfred Harderberg, has complex tentacles that are even involved in the sale of human organs and their harvesting from people killed for those organs. They fear going after the magnate because "Sacred cows must graze in peace." This one is worth reading but get ready for a slog.
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John F. Rooney
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