Eugene's Reviews > Sidetracked

Sidetracked by Henning Mankell
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Jun 09, 12

bookshelves: crime
Read from May 30 to June 09, 2012

I began reading Sidetracked after we had started watching the British television productions of Mankell's Wallander books, with which I immediately connected. Wallander is a skilled detective but less skilled at managing his life. He struggles with his relationships with his father and his daughter. He's divorced, and during Sidetracked, is more or less in a relationship with a woman living in Latvia whom we never actually meet. Aside from solving murders, he's quite dysfunctional. He can hardly handle laundry. Maybe that's why we empathize with him. We can see our own weaknesses in Wallander.

Wallander knows he's a skilled detective though, and recognizes others who are skilled as well. Solving crimes is messy business. There are many lines of enquiry and some of them are way off-base. Wallander seeks quiet places, solitude to think and rethink and rethink. He knows he's good at this but at the same time is filled with self-doubt and self-loathing and doesn't think he's cut out to be a policeman.

The book is set in Southern Sweden in an area of small cities and towns and rural areas. Even this beautiful country is not immune from the crimes Wallander would like to associate with big cities like Stockholm. Mankell tells a story of a group of ritual ax murders. We the reader get to see the killer and understand his motivation early on, and we get to watch Wallander and his associates struggle to find the connections and expose the murderer.

Sidetracked is a first-rate mystery. I enjoyed the characters, empathized with Wallander and appreciated the European setting. I'll read more in the series
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