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Firewall: A Kurt Wallander Mystery (Kurt Wallander Mysteries) Hardcover – November 7, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 185 customer reviews
Book 8 of 10 in the Kurt Wallander Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the sixth Kurt Wallander book to appear in English (One Step Behind, etc.), Mankell proves once again that spending time with a glum police inspector in chilly Sweden can be quite thrilling. In the small town of Ystad, a pair of seemingly random events take place within a matter of days: two teenage girls with no apparent motive brutally beat and stab a taxi driver to death, and a remarkably healthy man checks his bank balance at an ATM and then collapses dead on the sidewalk. After two more odd murders, Wallander becomes convinced that the incidents are all connected. The recurring clues demonstrating the vulnerability of society in the electronic age remain just outside of the Luddite inspector's understanding. But once he detects a conspiracy to collapse the world's financial infrastructure on a specific date, Wallander, whose position at work is already imperiled, ignores office politics and protocol to stop the would-be revolutionary. Although Wallander and his investigative team are forced to work at a dizzying speed, the pace of the book is just right, doling out new leads and intrigues right when they're needed. The only shortcoming in this otherwise smartly written mystery is that too many of the most perplexing clues discovered by Wallander are dismissed as red herrings or coincidence. Overall, however, Mankell's ambitious endeavor to combine large themes with small-town murder is a notable success.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Exquisite. -- Los Angeles Times Book Review

Mankell's Inspector Wallander has established himself as one of the best of recent detectives. -- The Times Literary Supplement [London]

Remember Kurt Wallander. -- Booklist starred review

Wonderful! Police procedural with personal texture. -- The Associated Press

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Product Details

  • Series: Kurt Wallander Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; Tra edition (November 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565847679
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565847675
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,357,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Maybe it's not a coincidence that the best police procedural series since the Martin Beck series also comes from a Swedish author. These deliberate, dark novels are not to everyone's taste, but if you liked Martin Beck, you'll probably like Kurt Wallander.
Firewall starts with two seemingly random events-- a reclusive computer expert drops dead in front of an ATM machine, and two teenage girls bludgeon and stab an elderly taxi driver to death. At first it seems that there couldn't possibly be any connection between the two, but the police investigation into the murder of the taxi driver is like kicking over an anthill. It seems as if a dozen incomprehensible things happen in rapid succession, including the killing of the prime suspect in the murder case. Inspector Kurt Wallander leads a dogged team of detectives in a search for the key to the baffling series of events, even though he has been accused of brutality toward a juvenile suspect and seems to be harboring a traitor among the cops on his team.
These cops work long hours, drink endless cups of coffee, and stop for numberless hamburgers and pizzas. But they also have home lives, do their laundry, take care of their sick kids, and struggle with car repairs and getting their errands done. Wallander, a divorced man in his mid-50's with diabetes and an advanced case of loneliness, balances action with thought, not all of it pleasant or useful. His resemblance is Martin Beck is strong, but this cop and his colleagues operate without the black humor that made Sjoewall and Wahloo's novels so fascinating. If society looked hopeless in the 1970's, it looks much worse in the late 1990's, and Wallander and his fellow cops see enough brutality and senseless violence to make anyone a pessimist.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a relief it is to read a modern thriller/police procedural whose characters seem real. Mankell's protagonist, Swedish police officer Kurt Wallander, is not a super-hero who outwits and outfights legions of bad guys. Nor is he as phenomenally lucky as the heros in many American thrillers. Wallander, a dedicated cop, has a believable internal life. His real-world personal problems include loneliness, distance from his adult daughter, and a threat to his position from an ambitious younger officer. His horrendously long hours make him feel exhausted; he gets frustrated with baffling evidence and failed plans. Yet he persists in trying to understand the connections between the deaths he is investigating. Different pieces of the puzzle appear at well-paced intervals during the story. There are surprises that don't fit theories. The conspiracy that emerges turns out to reach far beyond local events. Though the chief villain gets nailed at the end of the book, Mankell does not wrap things up in a neat package. The threat is still out there.
Subsidiary themes of the book include the vulnerability of our technological society, and resentment of the growing concentration of wealth. There are a few problems. Many of the Swedish names sound alike, making it difficult to separate some policemen and policewomen from others. Mankell's writing, translated from Swedish, sometimes produces short, choppy sentences. There is a peculiar fixation on checking the time. Nonetheless, this book rises far above most mysteries.
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Format: Paperback
Henning Mankell is one the finest mystery writers in the world. He understands plotting, the building of tension and the pacing of a story. In terms of craft, he is right up there with P.D. James. Mankell's talent as an author explains why a series of books about a gloomy, middle aged detective from a small town in Sweden has developed an international following.

The one problem with such a strong writing talent is that it sometimes allows an author to camoflouge a weak and unbelievable plot line. Kurt Wallander is a detective in small town Sweden and yet he stumbles onto a conspiracy with world wide implications. The scale of this conspiracy is far too great for Wallander's provincial world. For this novel to work, it requires more than virtuoso writing. The scale of the crime must fit in the scale of the hero's world. This is a very well written crime novel but in the end, I found it unbelievable.
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By David Chacko on February 14, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you like police detective novels that have a dose of realism in plot and setting, the obsessions of Mankell's Inspector Wallander provide a fine antidote to the usual run of serial/maniacals. The mystery is composed of subplots that come together slowly until they quicken as the end nears. What drives the plot is a larger-than-life, computer-enhanced doomsday clock, but Wallander's family in and outside the office give a strong sense of the man who makes it all come together. The brooding and well-realized town where the story takes place seems like the home you always wanted to run away from.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, I obtained a "set" of these novels and feel obligated to struggle through them. The plot progresses at the speed of smoke in an endless skein of simple declarative sentence (the latter may be a translation issue).

A protagonist should be compelling. Wallander is a bland, bungling idiot. It is staggering to ponder that the fate of Swedes is in the hands of people like him and his associates. A man dies under suspicious circumstances. The investigation reveals that he may be part of a plot that will bring the global economy to its knees. The method that emerges lacks credibility but that's another story. Wallander decides not to wait overnight to search the man's residence and breaks in, discovering key evidence. Because he's unauthorized, he leaves it there to be discovered by the valid search the following day. That search discovers the place ransacked and the evidence gone. From that and a subsequent attempt on Wallander's life there, our hero finally deduces that he's being tailed by those intent upon thwarting the investigation. Does he set a trap to catch the tail? No. This continues. When he discovers that the victim had a second apartment that contains even more vital clues, does he immediately set up a guard to ensure that isn't also destroyed? No. Wallander recruits a young man with a checkered background to help hack into the antagonist's operation, knowing he can get in trouble if this comes to light. He discovers that one of his subordinates has been going to the brass smearing him, in hopes of getting his position. So, does he go to his boss and come clean about recruiting the hacker or allow his rival to use it for more ammunition against him? By now, you can guess.
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