Sidetracked

August 17, 2014

According to an Inspector Wallander fan site, the first 10 Wallendar books were produced at a steady clip of one per year during the decade 1991-2000 before the author, Henning Mankell, turned his pen to non-Wallander projects. Frankly, I enjoy these books, but I don’t want to spend a decade reading them so I need to get cracking. With that promise in mind, it doesn’t bode well that I waited until August to open my first mystery of summer, Sidetracked, but here’s a promising sign: it may be the best book in the series so maybe I’ll read another one soon?

I enjoyed the previous book, The Man Who Smiled, mainly because its portrayal of Detective Wallander seemed more nuanced than the flatter pictures painted in previous books. Sidetracked doesn’t seem to penetrate as far into Wallander’s psyche, but the descriptions of his interpersonal relationships still give him adequate depth. This is most apparent when dealing with the complexities of his intense relationships with his 80ish father as the latter heads into senility and with his adult daughter who is struggling to find her direction in life. The few words that tie these characters together are chosen with a gentle and sophisticated touch. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that the same could be said about the descriptions of his interactions with his police colleagues and his occasional lover (a holdover character from a previous book). But I’m not really complaining. With so many characters attending meetings, combing for evidence at crime scenes, and calling on the phone, it is almost certainly impossible to give each her or his due.

What makes Sidetracked so appealing, though, is its careful plotting. This is a thriller that keeps you cringing almost from the first page to the last. It almost had that effect on me, but my wife had already told me that … but that would be spoiling things, wouldn’t it?

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One Response to “Sidetracked”

  1. […] still recovering from a series of grisly murders that had been committed the previous summer (see Sidetracked). When a new murder unfolds – an elderly man/bird watcher/poet dies impaled on bamboo spikes […]

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