Riga Lane
Photo of Riga by Desmond Kavanagh used under a Creative Commons license.

Henning Mankell, The Dogs of Riga (Vintage, 2004).
Mankell’s provincial Swedish detective, Kurt Wallender, investigates the deaths of two men washed ashore in a life raft. The case leads him to Riga, Latvia, where he finds himself embroiled in something larger. The novel is set against a backdrop of political change and instability in Latvia in 1991, when the Berlin Wall had come down and the country was struggling to escape Russia’s orbit.

Here is a biography of Mankell on his official website. Here is a page about the book on a fan site.  Google BookSearch has a preview. Blogger jborras4 has a shorter passage. Jane Jakeman (The Independent) calls it atmospheric and gripping fiction, never mind the middle-aged male anxieties. Sue Magee says the tension is palpable.  Listen to Maureen Corrigan’s review for Fresh Air. Andris Straumanis at Latvians Online says that for a reader familiar with recent Latvian history, it’s fascinating to see Mankell depict the calm before the storm. Comparing it to Mankell’s more traditional police procedurals, Simon Quicke was somewhat underwhelmed. S.E. Smith says it’s dark and creepy. Payal Dhar thinks it’s compelling and suspenseful. Kate S. was utterly satisfied. Dorothy says it also offers a lot to think about. But Ken Wedding wasn’t blown away, and Norwegian blogger Moonknight was even more disappointed.  Maxine has Joe Queenan writing about the Nordic Mystery Boom, and another Maxine (or the same?) follows up at Petrona.

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Photo of Scania by Nicolas Masse used under a Creative Commons license.

Henning Mankell, Faceless Killers (Vintage Crime, 2003).
Kurt Wallender is a detective in the Swedish province of Scania, in the very southern end of the country. Called upon to investigate the brutal murder of an elderly couple on a rural farm, a murder without an apparent motive, Wallender finds himself confronting Swedish anxiety about immigration. Mankell does not hurry things, leaving plenty of time to absorb Wallender’s surroundings. Originally published in Sweden in 1997, and the first of several novels featuring Wallender.

Here is the bio at Mankell’s website. Here’s a bio from Meekalee. Nicci Gerrard (The Observer) interviews Mankell. Ian Thomson (The Guardian) profiles him. Angel L. Soto calls it a pleasure to read. Sue Magee was hooked right from the beginning. Orin Judd gives it a B+. Terry gives it a B-. According to martin, Mankell hadn’t hit his stride yet. Leila Roy begs to differ. dovegreyreader’s first encounter with Wallender went well.  But Becky didn’t like it. Anders Hanson read it because it’s set in Sweden. Julius Lester wonders how to live in the new. Jonathan Bart was reminded of several other authors. The Book Fiend liked the sedate pace.

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