The Return of the Dancing Master

This is the first non-Kurt Wallander book that I’ve read by Henning Mankell. I was worried when I picked up this novel because I really loved Wallander and his style and dry humor while investigating crimes. But Mankell does not disappoint in The Return of the Dancing Master and shows that his creativity and skill are beyond an iconic character.

Stefan Lindman is a Police officer from Boras who is recently diagnosed with cancer and is put on medical leave. While Lindman is awaiting his diagnosis he learns that his former partner, Herbert Molin was brutally murdered in a scarcly populated area in the woods of Northern Sweden.

In an attempt to avoid his own life and problems, Lindman is drawn north in order to discover what little he knew of his old partner and why he was murdered. The only piece he brought with him was a memory of Molin’s fear that someone else was sneaking up on him in the woods while they were chasing a criminal years ago.

Lindman has to come to terms with his own mortatlity while trying to peice together Molin’s hidden life. A life filled with secrets. Secrets that many Swedes held during WWII and after. During the investigation, Lindman encounters his own family’s legacy of Nazism. Dealing with his own shame and horror, Lindman pieces together the crime and long sought after revenge.

Mankell’s straightforward style adds to the mystery of the crime and drags the reader down many wrong roads before finding the right one. It feels like a true police investigation with the mundaneness of the job between periods of intense activity. Lindman is not a hero like Nesbo’s Harry Hole. He’s not constantly putting himself in harms way. He’s a solid character that seeks the quiet rhythm of the investigation and slowly and surely finds his way to the murderer. He’s a very introspective character, perhaps because of the cancer diagnosis, but he makes an intriguing character to follow around the northern woods of Sweden.

Read September 2013


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