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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Firewall by Henning Mankell

Firewall (Wallander, #8)Firewall by Henning Mankell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jacket blurb: Stopping to get money from a cash machine one evening, a man inexplicably falls to the ground: dead. A taxi driver is brutally murdered by two teenaged girls. Quickly apprehended they appall local policemen with their total lack of remorse. One girl escapes police custody and disappears without trace. Soon afterwards a blackout covers half the country. When an engineer arrives at the malfunctioning power station, he makes a grisly discovery. Inspector Kurt Wallander is sure that these events must be linked - somehow. Hampered by the discovery of betrayals in his own team, lonely and frustrated, Wallander begins to lose conviction in his role as a detective. The search for answers leads Wallander dangerously close to a shadowy group of anarchic terrorists, hidden within the anonymity of cyberspace. Somehow these criminals seem always to know the police's next move. Wallander finds himself fighting to outsmart them In their gripping police procedural about our increasing vulnerability in the modern digitalized world

I have come to the conclusion that Kurt Wallander is a lousy policeman and detective.  He continuously snarls at his team, "I don't care! Do what I say!", he doesn't tell his team OR is supervisor key points in an investigation, he sneaks around behind everyone's back, he has anger management issues, untreated chronic depression, and harasses people at 3am in the morning because he wants the answer NOW but then is irritated when someone calls him in the middle of the night. 

Wallander believes he is the most experienced member on the force, the only detective who can solve crimes and no one else knows what he does.  Bull. Shit.  The more I read these, the more find him an unpleasant person.

No, I amend that - the more I am coming to detest Wallander as a main character. I can't even empathize with his point of view anymore because he is such an ass to everyone around him.  His wallowing in self pity, self destructive behavior, lashing out in anger at his team and witnesses does not sit well with me at all.  I'm just short of saying to heck with the series.

An example - I repeatedly noticed he would ask a team member, "Did you investigate X?"

Team member would reply, "No, should I?"

Wallander, "No, it doesn't matter. Go investigate Y."

Team member, whining, "But I don't have time to investigate Y, I'm working on Z."

Wallander, shouting, and slapping the table, "I don't care! Do what I say!"

Team member, placating, "All right! All right!"

Wallander, "Well, don't just stand there!"

So why do I keep listening to these (audiobooks)?  Because the look at the Swedish police system and societal beliefs as seen though the eyes of the author are actually quite fascinating. An example - Wallander is shocked that two young girls could commit a brutal murder.  And is further shocked when Ann-Britt Hoglund explains to him that young girls don't have a place in society anymore and are lashing out because of it.

But even this glimpse of Swedish society as seen through the pen of the author might not be enough to continue with the series.  I enjoy the plots, I detest the main character. Not sure I can recommend this one.

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