Thursday, July 10, 2008

50 Book Challenge #9: Faceles Killers by Henning Mankell

I borrowed this on recommendation. I hated it. It's like a boring criminal procedural, but Sweden is so behind CSI: Miami in terms of forensic techniques and thus the mechanistic details are tiresome. Also, the cops don't carry guns, which puzzles me. Their interview and investigative techniques are bewildering. Coming from an American criminal justice orientation as driven through my skull daily by all of the cop shows, it's hard to get the appeal of this book, since it focuses less on the crime than on the internal life of the one cop, who is not that interesting and vaguely misogynist. Contrast this with the Zodiac movie, in which nothing happens re the murder mystery (which is still urgent! just prolonged!) but the focus on the internal obsessions of the characters and the cost to their personal lives is at least sympathetic and interesting. I did not care about him, about his recent separation or his estranged relationship with his daughter or his lust for the married prosecutor (which was kind of creepily described) or his fantasies about an unnamed Black woman. This may be the least sympathetic detective ever. Since the plot surged forth at a glacial pace, a lot of time was spent focusing on the detective, whose name escapes me, but without the psychological insight of a really good author. Limp plot, weak characterization, flat prose, and the only interesting aspect--anti-immigrant xenophobia in Europe and the specter of terrorism--is totally wasted. If I'm going to read a mystery, I want it to be heavy on the plot or psychological excavation of character, or both! The town names remind you insidiously of Ikea furniture, though, so globalization is the most terrifying aspect of the novel.

Do not read.


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