Mankell groupies will relish this collection of short stories and novellas that answers the tantalising question - what was Kurt Wallander like before the series began? Tracing the Swedish detective's progression from enthusiastic rookie to depressed 40-something, this satisfying prequel (translated by Ebba Segerberg) fills in the early years.
Spanning 1969 to 1989, Mankell gives us intriguing glimpes into Wallander's life pre-divorce, pre-fatherhood and pre-mid-life crisis. As ever, the stories are less about solving the mystery than exposing darker forces at work in Swedish society.
In the first story, a 21-year-old Wallander investigates the murder of a neighbour, while the title story revolves around a narcotics smuggling case and the anxieties triggered by the real-life assassination of Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme.