Monday, December 15, 2014

Review: An Event in Autumn by Henning Mankell tr. Laurie Thompson

An Event in Autumn by Henning Mankell, tr Laurie Thompson (September 2014, Harvill Secker, ISBN: 1846558077)

This Wallander novella, AN EVENT IN AUTUMN was written in 2004 as a freebie for Dutch crime readers and has been televised in the Kenneth Branagh Wallander series and is now available in English.

It is set before the final Wallander book, THE TROUBLED MAN, and Wallander is house hunting. His colleague Martinson suggests a house owned by a cousin of his wife's, out in the country. When Wallander visits however, he discovers a skeletal hand in the back garden.

The story is a straightforward investigation into the identity of the skeleton, which has been there many years, and into the history of the house's previous owners.

It features a typically grumpy and reflective Wallander and is entertaining enough for fans wanting a final glimpse of this iconic character.

Of even more interest is the ten or so pages at the back: 'Mankell on Wallander' which covers "how it started, how it finished and what happened in between". Mankell didn't want to just write Wallanders books because they were popular with readers but wanted to use them to say something and AN EVENT IN AUTUMN is a hint of what could have happened if Mankell hadn't been so principled. Granted it is fairly short but it feels quite sparse, lacking the social commentary that the Wallander books and Swedish crime fiction in general is associated with. Unfortunately this is it now for the series as Mankell concludes his afterword with "There are no more stories about Kurt Wallander".

AN EVENT IN AUTUMN is one for existing fans definitely, but readers new to the series might be better off starting with book one, FACELESS KILLERS, instead.

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