cover image BEFORE THE FROST: A Linda Wallander Mystery

BEFORE THE FROST: A Linda Wallander Mystery

Henning Mankell, , trans. from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg. . New Press, $24.95 (383pp) ISBN 978-1-56584-835-1

In Mankell's stellar 10th Wallander mystery, the generational torch passes from father Kurt to his equally stubborn daughter, Linda, who recently finished her police training and is anxiously awaiting her first day on the job. But a seemingly random series of events jump-starts her career and enmeshes her and her father, along with Stefan Lindman, the detective featured in The Return of the Dancing Master (2004), in a case with global ramifications. The book begins on a bizarrely disquieting note: someone is setting animals—wild swans, a farmer's calf—on fire. Then Linda begins investigating, unofficially, the disappearance of her friend Anna Westin. And the stakes for everyone are raised when Linda finds the ritualistically mutilated corpse of Birgitta Medberg, a local cultural historian. A complex (but wholly credible) narrative connects these events with a terrorist plot led by a survivor of the 1978 mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. As always with Mankell, the mystery is connected to larger issues—the decline of Swedish civility, of course, but also the danger of religious fundamentalism (the events are set in the weeks before 9/11)—but polemics never trumps suspense in this extraordinarily compelling drama. (Feb. 8)