Fourth in the Kurt Wallander series. 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.
Henning Mankell is the prize-winning and internationally acclaimed author of the Inspector Wallander Mysteries, now dominating bestseller lists throughout Europe. He devotes much of his time to working with Aids charities in Africa, where he is also director of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo.
Under ordinary circumstances, the suicide of an unknown teenager would get Inspector Kurt Wallander's undivided attention, especially because she poured gasoline over her head and set herself aflame right in front of the horrified, helpless Wallander. But the mystery of the girl's motive for killing herself is soon upstaged by the activities of one of Sweden's rare serial killers. The crafty murderer, calling himself Geronimo, donning war paint, and traveling by moped from victim to victim, has scalped the former minister of justice and a shady art-dealer. A psychological profiler who's been called in to work with Wallander's team remarks sagely that it would be easier to get a fix on the victim if only there were more victims. But the next victim, when he obligingly turns up, confounds the pattern the first two seemed to have established. Meanwhile, as Wallander and his crew work feverishly to track down leads, the body count rises, some of them victims of suicide or heart failure. (Mankell recalls P.D. James in his ability to relate homicide to the more general curse of mortality.) And Wallander's worries about his father's Alzheimer's, and his plans for vacationing with his sweetheart Baiba Karlis, are buried beneath the pile of scalps. Though the punishing length and glacial pace of glum Wallander's third (The White Lioness, 1998, etc.) may put off casual visitors, connoisseurs of the police procedural will tear into this installment like the seven-course banquet it is.