Furloughing series hero Kurt Wallender (The Dogs of Riga, 2003, etc.), Mankell introduces Detective Stefan Lindman and saddles him with Wallender-like Weltschmerz.
Wallender has diabetes, Lindman cancer. Both are insomniacs who view the world darkly through Swedish glass, as when Lindman runs “his tongue over his mouth. The lump was still there. I’m carrying death in my mouth, he thought.” Like Wallender, Lindman is a cop to the core, imbued with a special sensitivity as to the nature of evil, and obsessive in pursuing creeps. Along with her cautious diagnosis, Lindman’s doctor issues some sensible advice. Get out of harness, she tells him; find a beach and bask while you wait out the three weeks before radiation therapy can begin. It’s all wasted on Lindman. Learning that a former colleague has been murdered in a nearby town, off he goes, fully aware how little the local cops will welcome him. Lindman had never been close to the enigmatic Herbert Molin, but that’s hardly the issue. It’s a case, a knotty one with tentacles reaching back to WWII and the Nazi monstrosity, that’s just what Lindman needs, if not exactly what the doctor ordered.
While some over-the-top plotting keeps this series debut a notch below Mankell’s best, his audience will surely approve the new guy too heartily to inflict a serious hit.