Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Read and Write Tuesday - Henning Mankell

I was struggling to know what to write about this week. It's a problem I have most weeks - I sit at the laptop and wait to see what pours out. But then this week Henning Mankell died and I knew I had to write about his books and how they have shaped my reading over recent years.

I can't remember when I read my first Wallander book but I loved him from the first one. He's not an easy character to like but he gets under your skin. He's authentic; by which I mean he rings true as a character and you can see how his various experiences have shaped the man he has become. In some ways he is a clichéd police inspector - out of shape, divorced, isolated, drinks too much - but he is all too human.

He has a complex relationship with his daughter, Linda. She lives a chaotic life, dabbling in drugs and nearly dying as a teenager. They prowl around each other, hurting each other with insults and home truths. This rings true of father-daughter relationships, even if it is extreme one. He has a variety of relationships with women, none of which ultimately satisfy him. He would be a really difficult man to live with!

His relationship with his father is central. He doesn't understand his father, who is an artist and they have the sort of relationship with depresses both of them. As the novels unfold Wallander becomes ever more like his father and they start to understand each other more. Some of the most touching pieces in the novels revolve around Wallander coming to terms with his father's illness and mortality.

The murders in the novels are suitably gruesome - if I'm reading a murder mystery I want at least 1 grisly murder! Henning Mankell introduced me to Scandi noir novels and through him I have read wonderful things by Camilla Lackberg, Stieg Larsson, Per Wahloo & Maj Sjowall, Jo Nesbo, Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdasdottir.

So I am saddened by the loss of Henning Mankell but I am thrilled that he wrote such captivating novels and gave so many folk such pleasure.

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