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I've read and listened to Mankell's Wallander novels entirely out of order now but it hasn't mattered one bit. Each book is a novel unto itself, and almost each one bears the reader on a journey into real dimensions of human struggle -- whether the protagonists, the antagonists or the supporting characters or all of the aforementioned.
Sidetracked is one of my favorites, I'd almost encourage someone who hasn't read Mankell to read this one or "The Fifth Woman" first -- both are so resonant. Two of the earlier books -- "The Dogs of Riga" and "White Lioness" are very good, but not superb. This one -- is superb. This novel, like "The Fifth Woman" takes what on surface could be an utterly implausible series of horrendous murders and makes the murderer sympathetic or compelling while giving the reader a fully-realized, flawed but deeply sympathetic policeman and his family-- his daughter, his father -- but also his police family who become important and endearing as well.
I feel like I've become the Chief Member of the Henning Mankell Fan Club but in my mind this series encapsules what great books are -- riveting, but memorable, fully-realized characters, books that make you think, and think, and think some more. I've said in previous reviews that these novels transcend genre writing, and they do. For those who love police procedurals, these are among the best; for those who love literary fiction, these again, are among the best.
31 of 31 people found this review helpful
I have watched some of the BBC series based on these books, but this was my first "reading" of one. The TV version is bleak indeed, and Sweden is portrayed as a really depressing place.
I found the listening experience to be more balanced. Because the book is not so entirely focused on Wallander and his demons, it presents a wider view entirely. The detective's frequent depression isn't so much the crux of the story as an intricate part of the puzzle.
"Sidetracked" is a great thriller. We know who the perpetrator is from nearly the beginning, so this is more a police procedural than a mystery. But it's also a really good study about the psychology and humanity of a seeming monster. It has really intense violence, but it also has great suspense, an interesting and varied cast of characters, and terrific writing.
Dick Hill narrates beautifully.
I'll seek out other listens in this series.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful