le 28 août 2014
This slow 1994 thriller sees the return to work of chief inspector Kurt Wallanger (KW), 49, after a lengthy medical leave. He intended to sign his resignation into effect, but remorse about the recent murder of a man he used to know, makes him change his mind. Why remorse? Because he refused to help the man when he asked for it. Days later the man was murdered.
Throughout the thriller KW is tired, depressed and irritable. He lives on coffee and fast food and sleeps badly. One cause of his Nordic gloom are his feelings of futility regarding his job: fewer crimes are solved in Sweden than almost anywhere else in Europe. Ever fewer uniformed police on the streets and more administrative staff at the station are the result of endless reforms whose main outcome is to achieve budget cuts. The unsolved 1986 murder of prime minister Olof Palme also weighs heavily on the force and KW’s midlife crisis: how to carry on? Finally, there is the belief in Sweden, also in law enforcement, that business tycoons and their families to whom the country owes its wealth, are immune to committing crimes, and therefore sacrosanct, above the law.
Because one such a mover and shaker, Alfred Harderberg, is the only person who could possibly have ordered the first murder. After slow and painstaking investigations KW and his team uncover more, apparently unrelated killings, and KW becomes a target himself. He also faces trouble from within the force in his efforts to confront the iconic tycoon.
This thriller takes place in late 1993, not long before the internet and GSM revolution erupted. Google and countless other apps and devices key to police work today had not been invented or introduced yet. Still, Mankell predicts in this book that it is bound to become more dependent on electronics through keyboards, screens, CCTV, mobile phones and massive computing power. Mankell wrote this book in the age of the telephone booth when people still wrote letters to each other.
Also, today thrillers with chapters of 25+ pages are widely considered unreadable; 6-8 page chapters is the norm now. Finally, Stieg Larsson must have thought: this can be done better. And he did.