efforts by stalwarts of the seventies and eighties such as
Sven Sörmark and Ulf Durling, many felt the Swedish crime-fiction
industry was in need of a refuel before Henning Mankell made
his crime-fiction debut in 1991. This first crime novel, Mördare
utan ansikte (Faceless Killers), won him a prize for best
Scandinavian crime novel of the year. Mankell's nine novels
about Chief Inspector Wallander have been extremely popular,
with most of his books having sold over 2 million copies each.
Mankell's novels have also been made into films and television
programmes and Mankell himself as he notes
in the interview with Bob Cornwell has been
very happy with the portrayal of his chief character Inspector
Wallander, by the actor who appeared in films based on Sjöwall
and Wahlöö's Martin Beck series as Gunvald Larsson.
Mankell's crime novels share social themes and an international
flavour. In Villospår (Sidetracked) Mankell takes
advantage of the location of Ystad (in southern Sweden) to
point to international crime, in this case prostitution rings.
With its Prologue set in Germany during the aftermath of World
War Two, Danslärarens återkomst (The Return
of the Dancing Instructor) uncovers in the present day a network
of neo-Nazi activity.
Mankell's crime novels have elements of the police procedural the
forensic details, the concentration on the whole team of investigating
officers but are also thrillers. Readers
are thwarted in their desire to play detective themselves
and solve the crime, and the emphasis on action and violence
is akin to the thriller. His works are certainly a far cry
from the cosy whodunnits of the pre-war period in Britain
and the early post-war years in Sweden.
Conan Doyle tried unsuccessfully to kill off Sherlock Holmes.
In his interview with Bob Cornwell, Mankell tells us of his
plans for Kurt Wallander. The extract reproduced in the 2001
Supplement, however, is the prologue to a novel which introduces
a new policeman. Stefan Lindman becomes involved in a murder
investigation in the far north of Sweden whilst on sick leave.
He has cancer. As Ulf Örnkloo writes in the Swedish detective-fiction
journal Jury, "it is difficult, of course, not
to draw a parallel between Lindmann's cancer and what seems
to be happening in society."