Best Wallander Books

Earl Hamilton
• Sunday, 08 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Sign in with Facebook A book’s total score is based on multiple factors, including the number of people who have voted for it and how highly those voters ranked the book. 9 books · 11 voters · list created October 21st, 2012 by Sven(votes).

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Henning Mandell was not always the subtlest of moralists, but he knew the importance of making his books entertaining and exciting: readers came for the plots and the action, and stayed for the lectures. This story begins with the discovery of a woman murdered in a Swedish wood, but soon expands to include sections set in South Africa during the dying days of Apartheid, as Hollander pursues an assassin hired to kill Nelson Mandela.

There is a long tradition in Sweden of exploring domestic politics through crime fiction, but Mandell opened up the genre to take in international affairs too, and relished the chance to write about his beloved Africa. One of the best of the non- Wallanderbooks features young detective Stefan Lineman, who is forced to take time off work after being diagnosed with cancer of the tongue, but decides to start his own investigation when a retired ex-colleague is found bull whipped to death.

Mandell’s reflections on the rise of the Swedish neo-Nazi movement are combined with a cunning mystery, and the setting in north Sweden is even more appropriately bleak than Wallander’s south-coast beat of Star. Plagued by memory lapses, Hollander sticks his nose into the disappearance of his daughter’s boyfriend’s father, in a case that seems to suggest that Sweden is declining at almost as fast a rate as the body of the worn-out sleuth.

The history of mysteries and detective fiction includes several instances of authors and characters falling victim to dementia. If the intersection of detective fiction and dementia is so striking, it’s because they’re like a matched set of mirror opposites.

In the classic sense, a mystery begins with a puzzle or number of unexplained circumstances. As the story unfolds, a detective sorts through clues and unravels the puzzle until a plausible explanation emerges for what happened.

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“It is the brain, the little gray cells on which one must rely,” Agatha Christie’s Hercules Poirot says. A few years ago, when I interviewed a homicide detective in my city’s police department, he told me that all the members of his team benefited from aspects of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which enable them to notice and keep track of the smallest bits of information.

he onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the opposite of the path of a mystery novel. The result is that victims lose the ability to remember names of objects and faces, struggle to concentrate and find the right word, and become confused about time and place.

Article continues after advertisements the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the opposite of the path of a mystery novel. Sufferers begin with an understanding of the world and a clear picture of their identity and the meaning of life.

However, the issue of her possible disease arose in 2009, when two Canadian researchers, Ian Lancashire and Game First, published a study of the language in her novels. Their thesis posited that specific linguistic indicators are signs of cognitive decline characteristic of Alzheimer’s.

Lancashire and First found that the vocabulary richness of Christie’s text declined with age. Christie’s novel Elephants Can Remember, written when Christie was 81, exhibits what the authors term “a staggering drop of vocabulary of almost 31%” compared to the novel Destination Unknown written 18 years earlier.

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“These language effects,” the researchers noted, “are recognized as symptoms of memory difficulties associated with Alzheimer’s disease.” Lancashire and his team later studied the work of six other novelists, including P.D. James who lived to ninety-four, to demonstrate that the language effects are due to impairments not to natural aging.

Christie’s biographers, such as Janet Morgan, don’t mention Alzheimer’s specifically, which is not surprising given the infrequency of its diagnosis in the 1970s. Sometimes she was serene, sitting quietly at luncheon with friends, gently leafing through one of her books.

At other times she was eccentric, declaring, for instance, that today she would wear all her brooches, from the grandest diamonds to small ornaments children had sent her. Once, to the horror of her family and friends, she seized the scissors and cut off locks of the fine hair of which she had been so proud.

Kenneth Miller, who wrote under the pseudonym of Ross Macdonald and was the author of eighteen Lew Archer novels, died of Alzheimer’s disease at age sixty-seven in 1983. Miller’s biographer, Tom Nolan, traces the author’s decline in his final years.

In 1975, while revising his novel Sleeping Beauty, Miller confused the chronology of days, an error that the publisher caught before the book went to press. That same year, when Miller was writing The Blue Hammer, a friend and neighbor said, “Ken spoke of working mightily to bring the parts and pieces of his book together; it just seemed that that task was becoming increasingly difficult.” When reading a manuscript of the novel, another friend said, “I sensed a change, a softening, not only in tone but in diction.

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Article continues after advertisement In 1978, Miller was having trouble signing contracts and was leaving crucial information out of correspondence. In that time period, Miller couldn’t read books anymore but still liked to handle them, moving volumes from one shelf to another, rearranging by size and color.

Perhaps the most poignant passage in Nolan’s biography is this observation by Miller’s longtime friend, the writer Eudora Welt: What hurts the most is that Ken knew what was happening to him, I mean he had to face that; ‘cause he had a brilliant mind, and this just slowly came about.

In The Troubled Man, Henning Mandell’s final Kurt Hollander novel published in the United States in 2011, the detective succumbs to Alzheimer’s disease. In this novel, Hollander investigates a decades-old political controversy, which relies on memory to find the truth.

Firemen arrive to save his house, but he tells his daughter, “Sometimes whole chunks of time just disappear. And Kurt Hollander slowly descended into a darkness that some years later transported him into the empty universe known as Alzheimer’s disease.

The actor Peter Fall played the detective Colombo in the popular television series of the 1970s. Colombo, whose catchphrase was “Just one more thing,” commonly solved crimes by painstakingly interviewing suspects and then analyzing the details of their testimony to spot inconsistencies.

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For decades, I’ve been a student of mysteries and crime novels, learning how they’re put together, what makes them work. After a few years he was no longer able to master simple tasks like tying his shoes, could not recognize members of his immediate family, and did not know himself.

Mysteries are about a detective sifting through memories to find the identity of the guilty party. The cruelty that Eudora Welt recognized is the special tragedy of someone like Ken Miller/Ross Macdonald, someone so attuned to identity, losing his own.

We read mysteries for many reasons, but surely one motivation is the pleasure of proceeding from that first murky picture to the clarity of the resolution, or to use another metaphor, to put together the pieces of the puzzle. The unsettling fact of the intersection of mysteries and dementia is the reversal of that path and the backward descent in the life of a person, darkening the view and scattering the pieces.

Ann-Britt Holland, the department's first female detective, proves to be his best ally as he tries to pierce the smiling facade of his prime suspect, a powerful multinational business tycoon. All of Mandell's talents as a master of the modern police procedural which have earned him legions of fans worldwide are showcased in The Man Who Smiled, which is the fourth of the eight Wallanderbooks published thus far in English.

A lawyer driving home at night stops to investigate an effigy sitting in a chair in the middle of the highway. The prime suspect is a powerful corporate mogul with a gleaming smile that Hollander believes hides the evil glee of a killer.

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Joined by Ann-Britt Holland, Hollander begins to uncover the truth, but the same merciless individuals responsible for the murders are now closing in on him. From the dean of Scandinavian noir, comes the fourth riveting installment in the internationally bestselling and universally acclaimed Kurt Hollander series.

A lawyer driving home at night stops to investigate an effigy sitting in a chair in the middle of the highway. The prime suspect is a powerful corporate mogul with a gleaming smile that Hollander believes hides the evil glee of a killer.

Joined by Ann-Britt Holland, Hollander begins to uncover the truth, but the same merciless individuals responsible for the murders are now closing in on him. Synopsis The long-awaited fourth mystery in the bestselling Kurt Hollander series finds the detective deep in crisis after killing a man in the line of duty.

The author discovered he had cancer last year, and wrote about the experience in his last book, Quicksand: What It Means To Be A Human Being. His best -selling novels, which follow policeman Kurt Hollander through Sweden and Mozambique, were turned into a TV drama starring Sir Kenneth Branch.

In Mandell's home country, both Rolf Asgard and Kristen Eriksson played the role. In a statement, Sir Kenneth said: “In life and in art Henning Mandell was a man of passionate commitment.

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Aside from his stringent political activism, and his decades of work in Africa, he also leaves an immense contribution to Scandinavian literature. Born in February 1948, Mandell wrote dozens of plays, novels, children's books and screenplays.

The rumpled and gloomy detective got his name when Mandell ran his finger through a telephone directory, but went on to sell more than 40 million books. When the family moved to a remote town in the north of Sweden, the young Mandell immersed himself in books, reading extensively about Africa, and learned that imagination could be an instrument of survival, not just of creativity.

Unimpressed by school, he left at the age of 16 to join the merchant navy, becoming a stevedore laborer on a Swedish ship carrying coal and iron ore. Two years later, he set up home in Paris, barely scraping a living (“I don't know how I survived,” he said) but thriving on the student activism and political debate. There, aged 20, he wrote his first play, The Amusement Park, about Swedish colonial interests in 19th Century South America.

He was active in the “memory books project, which encourages parents with HIV to record their stories, not just for their children but for future generations. Shortly after New Year 2014, the author went to see an orthopedic surgeon in Stockholm with what he assumed was a slipped disc.

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