Monday, 24 December 2012

The Secret Life of Wallander

The Secret Life of Wallander, by Stafford Hildred, is sub-titled ‘An unofficial guide to the Swedish detective taking the literary world by storm’. To anyone of a slightly cynical turn of mind (like me) the key word there is probably ‘unofficial’. The author is a successful journalist, whose other books have featured the likes of David Beckham, Rod Stewart and Jamie Oliver, and he writes as an enthusiast rather than as a crime fiction specialist.

The book seems to have been quite hastily written, and I spotted a few oddities and errors, plus a regrettable absence of a detailed list of sources and an index, that one tends to associate with quickly produced ‘scissors and paste’ books. I do miss an index in a non-fiction book - though when, years ago, I had to compile my own index to a legal book I'd written, I did not enjoy the task at all!

Despite the shortcomings of this project, Wallander, and his creator Henning Mankell, are interesting subjects, and Stafford Hildred’s obvious enjoyment of the books featuring the gloomy cop carries the reader through. There are introductory chapters about Mankell, and about the Branagh tv series (the Swedish tv series, which I prefer, is mentioned only in passing) but the meat of the book is to be found in the detailed accounts of the nine Wallander books published in the UK to date.

A final chapter sweeps up related books, such as the one in which Linda Wallander is the central figure. This is not, to my mind, the definitive book on either Mankell or Wallander, but nevertheless it provides a readable overview of a notable crime series.


Keanan Brand said...

I've watched the Wallander series (starring K. Brannaugh) since the beginning, but have yet to find copies of the books in a library here in the US, and have promised not to buy any more books to add to my library. However, I like the character--he always seems melancholy but empathetic--and I wish something would go well for the poor man.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Keanan, good to hear from you. I know what you mean about Wallander!