June 10, 2009


Mankell explores underneath life's ice (Ed Siegel, June 9, 2009, Boston Globe)

Kurt Wallander might be the most depressive standing detective in crime fiction, but he seems like Kenneth the page from "30 Rock" compared with the protagonists in Henning Mankell's non-genre fiction.

Meet Frederik Welin. He lives on his own private island where he cuts a hole in the ice and jumps in every day to feel alive. And, this being Scandinavia, such a ritual by the 66-year-old makes the daily dip by the L Street Brownies look like a dive into a heated indoor pool.

And did we mention his dog and cat? Who are both dying. Or the lover he ditched? Who's dying of cancer. Or his former patient? Whose good arm he mistakenly amputated. Or . . . Well, you get the picture. Life isn't a cabaret for Frederik Welin. If he were to die tomorrow no one would care except the schlub who delivers his mail and gets free medical advice for his various imaginary ailments.

But wait! Who's that woman inching her way across the ice with help from her walker? Is it the Godot he had long stopped waiting for? No, it's the aforementioned cancer-ravaged lover he had abandoned, who's about to whisk him away to . . . The Forest.

And if the plot seems like something out of a film by Mankell's father-in-law, the late Ingmar Bergman...

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 10, 2009 6:10 AM
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