Tuesday, November 9, 2010
One Step Behind: Review
One Step Behind by Henning Mankell is a brilliant police procedural. This was my first experience with the series featuring Inspector Kurt Wallander. I hadn't even heard of it until a friend recommended the series to me. Set in Sweden, this installment follows Wallander as he tries to make sense of a killer who has shot three teenagers who had dressed in 18th C costumes in celebration of Midsummer's Eve. As more victims are claimed by the killer, Wallander has to decide if he is dealing with a madman or a madman with a plan. Is the killer purposely looking for victims in "costume?" Or does he just have a problem with people who are happy? And how has the killer found out so many secret details about his victims? The case is complicated by several things...the killer is clever and covers his tracks well; he always seems to be at least one step ahead; he has added one of Wallander's colleagues to mounting list of bodies. Added to that Wallender is fighting his own private demons--the death of his father and his own deteriorating health.
This was an incredible police procedural. Wallander is a flawed hero--certainly not the perfect, super policeman who always gets his man and never makes mistakes. He is believable and learns from his mistakes. We get a good look at the everyday workings of a murder investigation without being overwhelmed or bored to tears with details. Henning offers up interesting characters that I want to read more about. The ending seemed a bit contrived, but other than that I was enthralled. I stayed up way later than I should have last night because I absolutely had to finish the book. It was worth every minute of lost sleep! Recommended for mystery lovers, those who like police procedurals, those who like books from other countries, and those who just like good writing. Four stars out of five.