Henning Mankell’s main character becomes your best friend, that is one of the secrets of this internationally famous mystery writer and his protagonist, Kurt Wallander. If you haven’t read him, you might have seen the Kurt Wallander BBC productions on PBS staring Kenneth Branagh. He is also played by star, Krister Henriksson, in a Scandinavian production.
Kurt Wallander is someone you want to spend your free time with, in any case. He’s provocative, a brilliant crime solver, and is moving ahead with heart and not always with caution as he solves mysteries in his beloved Sweden.
A recurring theme is to be true to yourself to offer to the world what and who your are. His personal life is in shambles because he fights crime and the victims are upper most in his mind, trying to stop killers from killing again, his priority. Since his youth, he wanted to be a cop, he doesn’t know why he chose this career as his life’s work, but that’s who he is at heart.
Wallander makes costly mistakes there too. His frailties, however, only endear him to us, we see him as human, we relate to not being able to handle everything perfectly in a time of crisis, in particular. How we push things aside to do what is most important at the time, and we pay for it later.
Mankell taught me as a writer, to talk to your reader as if he or she is sitting next to you. Yet, your work should focus on an issue first, one that is bigger than the character, in particular, if you’re writing police procedures, or in my case, investigative reporting, which is what I do in my Carol Rossi Mystery Series;Rossi is second to the issue at hand.
Wallander fights the issues of prejudice against immigrants in Sweden in Faceless Killers. He openly speaks of an unrest in Sweden in dealing with immigrants as inspiration for Faceless Killers. Sidetrack addresses human trafficking, how wealthy influential men imported and abducted young women holding them as sex slaves, some even abusing their own daughters.
In The Fifth Women Mankell addresses domestic violence towards women by writing a revenge tale of a daughter of an abused woman brutally killing abusive men, to name a few of his plots.
But it is Kurt Wallander’s voice, steady, sure and fallible that a reader falls in love with. He’s that friend who is always at your side, when you need him; and he stands for what is right with the world, a true valiant fighter for justice sacrificing himself at every turn.