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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sidetracked by Henning Mankell (Book #5)

Sidetracked (Wallander #5)Sidetracked by Henning Mankell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From  In the award-winning Sidetracked, Kurt Wallander is called to a nearby rapeseed field where a teenage girl has been loitering all day long. He arrives just in time to watch her douse herself in gasoline and set herself aflame. The next day he is called to a beach where Sweden’s former Minister of Justice has been axed to death and scalped. The murder has the obvious markings of a demented serial killer, and Wallander is frantic to find him before he strikes again. But his investigation is beset with a handful of obstacles—a department distracted by the threat of impending cutbacks and the frivolity of World Cup soccer, a tenuous long-distance relationship with a murdered policeman’s widow, and the unshakably haunting preoccupation with the young girl who set herself on fire. Fascinating and astute, Sidetracked is a compelling mystery enhanced by keen social awareness

This book moved along much more quickly than The Man Who Smiled. Wallander's character, who is prone to deep introspection, didn't seem to become as bogged down in his moody depressive thoughts as he was previously. In The Man Who Smiled, I just wanted to grab Wallander by the lapels and shake him till he snapped out of it. Perhaps it is a Swedish thing?

In Sidetracked, the Ysted police force is faced with a horrific serial killer and it's affecting everyone, more so since it seems half of them were slated to go on Holiday and now can't because of the nature of the crime. They are over worked and understaffed. Wallander has resumed the role of lead detective as his small group doggedly try to figure out what connects these seemingly random murders, but the link remains just out of their reach.

We also had less arguing in this book (see previous review), in that when Wallander asked for back-up, a forensics team, or further research to be done, they did it without asking "Why?" all. the. time. In this book, the police acted like a police department and less like a bunch of petulant teenagers. At least until the last quarter of the book, then everyone regressed and Wallander was bossing around another precinct as well.

I also enjoyed - and I have no idea if this was on purpose or by chance - the little comparisons of the Ysted crime to crimes in the US. It was amusing to hear (audiobook, remember!) "...this doesn't happen in Sweden! This sort of thing happens in the US!"

My complaint in this book lies in the lack of character development of the supporting cast. They are very two dimensional and I would have liked to see their characters fleshed out more as the series moves forward. Still, I'm looking forward to the next book.

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