Saturday, January 2, 2010

*Firewall, by Henning Mankell

sidebar: a few of the Wallander books have been dramatized on PBS Mystery, starring Kenneth Branagh, who makes an outstanding Wallander. If you haven't seen these, you must.  But do yourself a favor and read the books first. Check out the series here.

 If you haven't yet met Kurt Wallander, I highly suggest that you run, not walk, to your nearest bookstore and pick up his first book, Faceless Killers.  After that, you will want to run, not walk, to your nearest bookstore and pick up book #2. And so on and so on, until you've read all of the Wallander series. They are, in a nutshell, outstanding.  Okay...maybe Dogs of Riga wasn't so hot (every author is allowed one bad series novel), but you literally can't put down any of these books while you're reading them.

This continues to hold true for Firewall, number eight in the Wallander series (which, personally, I hope Mankell never stops writing),

It's a year after the events of the previous book (One Step Behind), and the story opens with the death of a computer consultant  just after making a withdrawal from his ATM.  As the team begins its investigation into his death,  two young girls in a taxi beat and stab the driver to death.  The girls are arrested, and claim they killed the driver for the money, which as it turns out, wasn't very much for their trouble. As Wallander tries to sort everything out,  events occur which lead him and his crack Ystad police team come to realize that these two events were not random occurrences at all, and that they are part of a much bigger and more threatening picture. And time is running out.

The action in Firewall never lets up. Mankell has delivered yet another excellent Wallander adventure here, although I must admit that while the storyline is plausible, it's a bit over the top. Barring that minor drawback, Firewall is excellent, and I'm amazed how well Mankell manages to continue to portray Wallander as a real person with real-world problems and personal issues.  He doesn't skimp on the supporting characters, either, and the core plotline is absolutely diabolical.

Mankell is one of my favorite authors, and as long as he keeps writing, I'll keep buying. Highly recommended for Scandinavian mystery fans, and to readers of more hard-edge mysteries as well.  Do not start with this book as your first Wallander experience, however, because Wallander is someone that you really want to take time to get to know as a character.

Overall -- it's a great read.  It's a bit over the top, but still a fast-paced and very edgy mystery novel that will keep you glued to the pages.

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