Tag Archives: Sweden

The Stone Cutter by Camilla Lackberg

I finished this about a month ago, but I just have not had the desire to write anything for a while now. Life is pretty stressful at the moment & when it gets like this, well, writing is one of the things that falls by the wayside…..

The Stone Cutter is the 3rd in the series featuring police officer Patrik Hedstrom & the town of Fjällbacka, in northern Bohuslän, about 140 km north of Göteborg, Sweden. (Just looked up Fjällbacka on Google maps & it looks like a beautiful place to spend a summer!)

The story begins with Patrik being called to investigate the drowning of a child. He quickly discovers that he knows this child – he has seen her at his own home, with her mother, Charlotte, who is his partner, Erica’s best friend. Patrik begins to investigate & it very quickly becomes apparent that something very odd is going on.

Woven into the main story line is a second story about Agnes, a young, rich Swede whose father owns a quarry. This story is set in the 1920’s & initially it is hard to see where this fits in to the main story, but it does eventually begin to fit in. There are also several other smaller stories that run along-side the main plot, but luckily they don’t detract from the main story & I didn’t find it made it hard to follow, with all these characters running around.

As I said, The Stone Cutter is the 3rd book in this series & I have read the 1st one, but not the 2nd. Lackberg is a good writer & I have really enjoyed the two books I have read, but I’m not sure she really should be pigeon-holed into the genre that she is. Admittedly, she does write about mystery, but they are not mystery books in the classic sense. I think she’s kinda caught between the mystery & romance genres, which I suppose is why hardcore mystery lovers aren’t really enamoured with her books. Take the quote on the bottom of that picture above. It says: “Expert at mixing scenes of domestic cosiness with blood-curdling horror.” – only, it isn’t. Yeah, there’s the domestic cosiness – in spades – but the blood-curdling horror? I guess I read a different book! It was more like slow burning mystery full of domestic cosiness (mystery lite?). Enjoyable, but definitely not in the leagues of Deaver, Child & Mankell.



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The Man who Smiled by Henning Mankell

The Man who Smiled is the 4th book in the Wallander series of books by Henning Mankell (unless you are reading them chronologically, in which case it is the 5th). I’ve had this one sitting around my house for a few months, waiting for me to read it, as I am reading them in order & my OH picked it up when he saw it in Sainsburys, not knowing that there were still 2 books I needed to read before I got to this one. Now, if you read my blog with any regularity, you will know that I had conflicting feelings about this book (See here). After finishing The White Lioness (which I loved), I was really looking forward to reading The Man who Smiled, but I found myself again wishing that the cover was not what it was. (Ok, I admit it, I didn’t want people associating my reading this book with the BBC creation of Wallander – I know people who are refusing to read the books because of that dreadful series!)

Needless to say, I had to get over myself & read it (either that or give it away, I suppose) – especially as OH kept expectantly asking me if I was reading it next! Luckily, I was & I have to say – these books just get better & better!

Synopsis from the back of the book: After killing a man in the line of duty, Inspector Kurt Wallander finds himself spiralling into an alcohol-fuelled depression. He has just decided to leave the police when an old friend approaches him for help investigating his father’s suspicious death. Kurt doesn’t want to know. Against his better judgement he returns to work to head what may now have become a double murder case. Bu while Wallander is on the trail of the killer, somebody is on the trail of Wallander and closing fast.

18 months have passed since the end of The White Lioness, where Kurt ended up killing a man in the line of duty. He has since been signed off for severe depression & has spent that time drowning his depression in alcohol, holidays & women. While trying to get his life under control Wallander is visited by his friend (& solicitor) Sten Torstensson, who has come to find Wallander, to ask him to help in the investigation of his father’s death, which Sten feels certain was not an accident. Kurt turns his friend away, telling him he is no longer a policeman, that he should seek the assistance of the Ystad police.

The day that Wallander is due to go into the police station to sign his retirement papers he discovers that his friend, Sten, has been murdered – shot several times while in his office, which he had shared with his father (also a solicitor). This gets Wallander to thinking about the circumstances behind their deaths – 2 solicitors dead in a matter of weeks is a bit odd, even for Ystad. Kurt can’t help but think that something is dreadfully wrong, that he must right the wrong of turning he friend away by finding the person (or persons) responsible for his murder & the suspected murder of his father.

I flew through The Man who Smiled, even though I was only reading it on the bus to & from work. It was fast paced, full of action & I loved it! Must go buy the next one in the series!!


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The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell

The synopsis of The Dogs of Riga:

Sweden, winter, 1991. Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team receive an anonymous tip-off. A few days later a life raft is washed up on a beach. In it are two men, dressed in expensive suits, shot dead.

The dead men were criminals, victims of what seems to have been a gangland hit. But what appears to be an open-and-shut case soon takes on a far more sinister aspect. Wallander travels across the Baltic Sea to Riga in Latvia, where he is plunged into a frozen, alien world of police surveillance, scarcely  veiled threats and lies. Doomed always to be one step behind the shadowy figures he pursues, only Wallander’s obstinate desire to see that justice is done brings the truth to light. 

The Dogs of Riga is the second in the series of Inspector Wallander novels and is definitely an example of a work of brilliance – in progress. The Wallander books are eventually brilliant, but The Dogs of Riga is that early example of the diamond in the rough, in that it’s a good book, but not a great book.

The Dogs of Riga sees Wallander investigating 2 murders with ties to Latvia. Wallander ends up in Latvia – helping to investigate the murder of a Latvian police officer. While there he gets dragged into the a political situation he knows little of & which eventually threatens his own life.

Of the Wallander books I have read so far, I have enjoyed this the least. Possibly part of the problem is that for me, Wallander is Krister Henriksson & I just could not picture him in this book. Also, I think it just wasn’t that great a book, it seems to be an odd departure for Kurt, into a situation that I just couldn’t see him getting dragged into “in real life” (<- I was dying to say that, cause we all know that Wallander really does exist, lol). To me The Dogs of Riga just seemed too far fetched & not really very “Wallander-esque”.

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I am a very bad person!

THis morning my OH went to the store to get some eggs, bacon & bread so we could have breakfast. While he was there he called me to ask whether I had Henning Mankell‘s Wallander book “The Man Who Smiled” . I said I didn’t, knowing that he would buy it for me (he’s lovely like that!). So, when he came home we unpacked his bags & sure enough, inside was the book………………..(this is where the I am a very bad person comes in).

Thank goodness he had his back to me when I pulled the book out of his backpack, because rather than being happy, like I should have been, I wanted to tell him to take it back! And the reason for this reaction, you ask? Simple. The cover of the book was wrong! See, I told you, I am a very very bad person!

This is the cover of the one he bought: It is the BBC TV series tie in cover…….ugh. I think that the BBC ruined Wallander. Kenneth Branagh is not Wallander. Krister Henriksson is Wallander, but that is not the point. The point is that all of my other Wallander books have the non-tv series tie-in covers & like the anally retentive creature I am, I like all of my books to have matching covers…. Not to mention that I hate tie in covers on books. I will deliberately go out of my way to avoid buying books that have tie-in covers, regardless of whether I like, love or loath the show that the book cover ties into.

I don’t dare say anything because it was so lovely of him to buy it for me, but I wanted the one with this cover: that way it would match the other ones I have! I wonder if he would notice if I traded it for the one with the right cover? I am soooooo bad!!!


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Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

Faceless Killer is the first of the Kurt Wallander novels by Henning Mankell, but chronologically it is the 2nd, with the 1st being The Pyramid, which is about Kurt when he is first starting out as a police officer. Faceless Killers is set in 1990, when immigration is causing tension in Sweden, often resulting in crimes against immigrants, & immigrants being blamed for the rise in crime.

From Random House:

One frozen January Morning at 5 am, Inspector Wallander responds to what he expects is a routine call out. When he reaches the isolated farmhouse he discovers a bloodbath. An old man has been tortured and beaten to death, his wife lies barely alive beside his shattered body, victims of violence beyond reason. The woman supplies Wallander with his only clue: the perpetrators may have been foreign. When this is leaked to the press, racial hatred is unleashed. Kurt Wallander is a senior police officer at Ystad, a small town in the wind-lashed Swedish province of Skåne. His life is a shambles. His wife has left him, his daughter refuses to speak to him, even his ageing father barely tolerates him. He works tirelessly, eats badly and drinks the nights away in a lonely, neglected flat. But now winter closes its grip on Ystad, and Wallander, his tenacious efforts closely monitored by the tough minded (and disarmingly attractive) district attorney Anette Brolin, must forget his trouble, and throw himself into a battle against time and xenophobia.

While I was reading Faceless Killers I kept thinking about the Yellowbird film series starring Krister Henriksson & in particular the one titled Bröderna (the Brothers), which shares some similarities with the book, or at least that is the way it seemed to me. I really enjoyed the film series & find that they have added to my enjoyment of the books. Krister Henriksson, to me, is Wallander & that is who I picture in my head while reading the books. I flew through Faceless Killers & I eagerly await the delivery of my next Wallander installment!

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