Saturday, June 4, 2011


The Book: Firewall

The Author: Henning Mankell

The Dealio: First, a loner with a knack (might as well say 'obsession') for details drops over, dead, in front of an ATM. Next, a cab driver is violently and inexplicably attacked by two teenage girls. Kurt Wallander (our leading man, and the focus of a series on PBS starring Kenneth Branaugh as K. W.), a middle aged, diabetic, disgruntled and dogged homicide investigator is presented with a tough task: getting others, especially those in positions of authority to stop focusing on him and start seeing connections between the two cases. When a third murder scoots the connection to the front of the line, you might think Wallander would be allowed at least a second to bask in the glow of 'I told you so.' Nope. Instead, he finds himself the subject of the most inflammatory sort of scrutiny by journalists and being undercut by coworkers. Add in his overwhelming loneliness, his painfully inept attempts to re-establish connections with his adult daughter, and his strictly old school style of policing, (no computers, thank you very much), and the result is the crusty sort of curmudgeon you really, really want to succeed. The action is extremely fast-paced, especially in the first three-quarters of the story. The characters are believable and distinct. And, since Wallander shows up in quite a few novels, I look forward to exploring them, as well.
However, I must comment on the reader of this audio book: Dick Hill's narration has never been one of my faves. He also reads the Reacher series audios, and my complaints about his renderings of both are identical: his usual voice- which he reserves for the lead character- is fine. All others, male or female, adult or child, are pretty standard and indistinguishable, if a bit nasally. Which is a debit.

The Grading Session: 4.56 pengies out of 5. Points off for so many loose ends. One or two would be acceptable. There were far too many- and I can only hope that, as sometimes happens with cop/detective/mystery novel, these might be address in future Wallander outings. I reckon I was looking for something to fill the void in my life left when I finished the Millennium Trilogy. Naturally, there is no Lisbeth Salander to be found here. Not even a reasonable facsimile. And Wallander is no Blomqvist. But there is something immediately engaging about this prickly bear of a man who is trying to mend his loner ways and get to the bottom of the violence that swirls around his small Swedish town. So far, so good. I have a second story queued up and waiting.

Lessons Learned: Sometimes people are just cruel and violent, no matter their age. And there is no real reason why. It just happens. Unfortunately. Now, here's one for the ages: if you can't figure out why someone is suddenly enthralled by you, and the situation seems too good to be's time to start looking for cracks in that very fine veneer. And they will be there. Oh, yes. They will most assuredly be there.

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