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May 24th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing

#FridayReads, May 24–”Before the Frost,” a Kurt & Linda Wallander novel

Henning Mankell photo#FridayReads Henning Mankell’s thriller 2004 thriller Before the Frost, featuring Detective Kurt Wallander and his grown daughter Linda, who like he did earlier in life, chooses to become a police officer. With surprising synchronicity, in Michael Connelly’s 2011 Detective Harry Bosch novel The Drop, (my May 10th #FridayReads), his teenage daughter informs him that she is going to choose police work for her career. I don’t believe these two writers, one in Sweden, the other in Los Angeles, read each other’s work or have directly influenced each other. Instead, I believe that with these authors–who have each written ten or more books featuring their detective protagonist–become extremely invested in their characters and loyal to them, so that in their protean creativity, they endow the two characters–late middle-aged single fathers in each series–with full lives and late-in-life-joy from growing closer to their own child. This highlights one of the things I love most about these books, Mankell’s and Connelly’s, as well as those by other authors I enjoy–featuring characters Travis McGee, Bernie Gunther, and Joe Gunther (no relation to the former), by John D. MacDonald, Philip Kerr, and Archer Mayor, respectively: The author is so devoted to their creation that they give them full lives, and I as a faithful reader, feel obliged to be solicitous of and devoted to them myself.Mankell photo

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May 10th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing

#FridayReads, May 10–”The Drop,” Michael Connelly; “A Man W/out Breath,” Philip Kerr; “Black Count,” Tom Reiss


Friday Reads May 10

I’m so lucky to have so many terrific books to read this weekend and over the coming days. And, after these three, I’ve got a Henning Mankell novel I’ve never read, Before the Frost, a thriller that features not only his longtime series character, Kurt Wallander, but also his grown daughter Linda, who over several earlier books had voiced her ambition to become a police detective, like her father. In fact, the novel is officially dubbed “A Kurt and Linda Wallander Novel,” just as all the earlier ones were “Kurt Wallander” books. Interestingly, in Michael Connelly’s The Drop, featuring his series character Harry Bosch, the detective’s teenage daughter, Maddy, has told her father that she wants to become a police officer.

As I have written in earlier posts about Mankell’s books, I love his books, and all these detective authors for the loyalty over many books that they show to their characters. The cases become more engrossing and their characters more believable and more sympathetic the deeper you read in to each series. This is certainly also true for Philip Kerr’s whose A Man Without Breath I started this afternoon. This is the ninth book portraying Bernie Gunther, the German police inspector trying to say alive during WWII, while retaining his dignity and moral center, while the Nazis all around him engage in mayhem and corrupt self-dealing. I’ve also posted often about the Gunther books.

As for Black Count: Glory, Reovlution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, I met Tom Reiss and heard him read from his book at the National Book Critics Circle annual awards ceremony in March, and was enchanted by what I heard of his biography of Alexandre Dumas’ father. More recently, his book won the Pulitzer Prize. I read Chapter One last night, in which Reiss explains how he came to discover the elder Dumas, a remarkable figure who had been all but lost to history. I’m really eager to get back to his book, and so glad I have this nonfiction to balance all my novel reading.

Please note, if you want to read any of the books I’ve written about in this post, I’ve embedded links in each title. If you click on them, it will lead you to pages at Powell’s Books where you can order them. As I explain in a note near the upper right corner of this site, they then return a portion of your purchase price to me to help maintain this site.

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January 12th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing

#FridayReads, Jan. 11–”Zero” by Collinson Owen & “The Troubled Man” by Henning Mankell

#FridayReads, Jan. 11–”Zero” by Collinson Owen. Enjoyed this engrossing late-Edwardian (1927) potboiler about a novelist who welcomes the opportunity dealt him by a train wreck that leads his wife and friends to believe he’s been killed. Notwithstanding a new life under a nom de plume that shoots his career as a writer to new heights, he discovers a powerful urge to somehow go home again. It has lots of London publishing and theatre world material. According to the inside, Owen wrote at least 5 other books: The Adventure of Antoine; The Rockingham Diamond; The Battle of London (as “Hugh Addison”); C.O’s Cameos; and Salonica and After, a travel narrative. It’s easy to see why this was a popular entertainment in its day. I (gently as possible) reread my 1927 copy (it’s mostly disbound).Zero insideZero

Have moved on to The Troubled Man, another Kurt Wallander police procedural novel in my recent binge of books by Henning Mankell. This is one of the last of his Wallander novels, with the taciturn detective investigating the inexplicable disappearance of his in-laws. This book also features his daughter Linda, a police captain herself. It is the father and mother of her beau that have gone missing. I know from the sequence of these novels that Wallander is going to retire soon, plagued as he is by diabetes and terminal ennui, a fear that he’s wasting his life in futile pursuit of lawbreakers. I love these books for Mankell’s loyalty to his characters.Troubled ManMankell

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December 29th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Philip Turner's Books & Writing

#FridayReads, Dec. 28–”My Friend Dahmer” & “The Fifth Woman,” a Wallander Mystery by Henning Mankell

#FridayReads, Dec. 28–My Friend Dahmer, a graphic art memoir by Derf Backderf. A powerful book of comic art filled with distressing and dramatic aspects of Jeffrey Dahmer’s adolescence in a suburb near Akron, Ohio, where the future serial killer went to high school with the author. Published by the estimable Abrams Comic Art imprint.

Just finishing the pulsating police procedural The Fifth Woman, a Wallander novel by the Swedish mystery master Henning Mankell. This is the fifth of Mankell’s books I’ve read in the past couple months, and I’ve found each one more compelling and engrossing than the last. As in all the Wallander books, the diabolical plot is gripping, but it is the humanity of the police officers that pulls the reader through the yarn.

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December 15th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing

#FridayReads, Dec. 14–”The Man Who Smiled,” a Wallander novel by Henning Mankell

#FridayReads, Dec. 14–”The Man Who Smiled,” a Wallander novel by Henning Mankell. With so much unexplained crime in our midst such as the mass shooting in Newtown, CT today, it’s somehow sustaining to enter into Kurt Wallander’s world as he tries to riddle out the source of evil in Ystad, the small Swedish city that is his realm.

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December 7th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing

#FridayReads, Dec. 7–”Sidetracked,” a Kurt Wallander novel

#FridayReads, Dec. 7–Sidetracked, a Kurt Wallander novel by Henning Mankell. In finishing this gripping novel which features a serial killer taking revenge for harm done to his vulnerable sister I’ve completed a binge of three Mankell books read over the past several weeks.

The others were The Dogs of Riga (originally pub’d in 1992, it’s set in Latvia as the Eastern Bloc was on the verge of collapse) and The White Lioness (first out in ’95, it’s set amid the end of apartheid in South Africa, with a terrifyingly plausible plot on the life of Nelson Mandela). The cases become more engrossing and Wallander more believable and sympathetic the deeper you read in to the series. Last year, I read Faceless Killers, One Step Behind, and Firewall, so I think there’s only one I haven’t read, The Fifth Woman.

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November 16th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing

#FridayReads, Nov. 16–”The White Lioness” by Henning Mankell

#FridayReads, Nov. 16–The White Lioness, a Kurt Wallander mystery by Henning Mankell. Another terrific police procedural featuring the humane and likable Swedish detective.

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November 9th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing

#FridayReads, Nov. 9–”The Dogs of Riga,” Henning Mankell

#FridayReads, Nov. 9–”The Dogs of Riga,” a Kurt Wallander novel by Henning Mankell. I find myself getting totally absorbed by Mankell’s sympathetic characters, intriguing criminal puzzles, and compelling narrative style.