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Before the Frost (Kurt Wallander Series #9 & Linda Wallander Series #1)

Before the Frost (Kurt Wallander Series #9 & Linda Wallander Series #1)

3.4 23
by Henning Mankell

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Just graduated from the police academy, Linda Wallander returns to Skåne to join the police force where her father works. As she investigates the disappearance of a childhood friend, her case dovetails with Kurt's, and they soon find themselves confronting a group of religious extremists bent on punishing the world's sinners.


Just graduated from the police academy, Linda Wallander returns to Skåne to join the police force where her father works. As she investigates the disappearance of a childhood friend, her case dovetails with Kurt's, and they soon find themselves confronting a group of religious extremists bent on punishing the world's sinners.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
From critically acclaimed Swedish author Henning Mankell comes the first novel in his Kurt Wallander sequence to star the Scandinavian chief inspector's daughter, rookie policewoman Linda Wallander.

A recent graduate of the police training college in Stockholm, Linda is living with her father in Ystad, a small town outside of Malmö in the southern province of Skåne, for a few months before her job begins. But when a childhood friend suddenly disappears and an elderly woman is found butchered in a nearby forest, Linda becomes entangled in a bizarre case that revolves around a religious fanatic -- the only survivor from the 1978 massacre in Guyana, where 913 followers of Jim Jones and the People's Temple committed mass suicide. The self-proclaimed prophet has vowed to take over where Jones went astray: "He would evade the pitfalls of pride and vanity, and he would never forget that the Christian rebirth would demand sacrifice and blood." Following a trail of brutal animal sacrifices, Linda uncovers a cult bent on punishing the unbelievers of the world -- and that includes her.

Fans of eclectic mysteries and those who enjoy the translated works of foreign novelists like Japan's Miyuki Miyabe or Cuba's Leonardo Padura Fuentes will be absolutely blown away by Mankell's dark, introspective, almost poetic narrative style. Like sampling a previously undiscovered delicacy from an exotic country, readers will be more than pleasantly surprised by Before the Frost -- and may end up acquiging an insatiable taste for Scandinavian whodunits. Paul Goat Allen
Marilyn Stasio
''Burning swans were flying over Marebo Lake,'' Mankell writes, warming up for the even more gruesome sight of a woman's disembodied head and severed hands arranged in prayer position by her killer -- the crime that snaps Wallander into action on a case that ultimately dovetails with his daughter's search for her friend. Linda has a future in this series; but it takes a seasoned philosopher like Wallander to make sense of the horrors that men do to honor their gods.
— The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
Series mainstay Kurt Wallender makes room for his daughter. Feisty Linda Wallender, fresh out of Sweden's police academy, is ready to inaugurate her own series. Not that her papa (The Return of the Dancing Master, 2004, etc.) does a total second banana as the Ystad PD tries to cope with a religious fanatic bent on mass murder. Far from it: The chief inspector yields only half the stage in his offspring's debut, since he still has a lot to teach his clever child how to run a high-profile investigation. To her credit, she's eager to benefit from Kurt's hard-won experience-except, of course, when his paternal officiousness irritates her so thoroughly that she'd like to bean him with an ashtray, as she does at one point. The screw begins turning for the father-daughter sleuthing team when Anna Westin, a friend of Linda's, suddenly vanishes. Shortly thereafter, there's another disappearance: a woman whose name Linda finds in Anna's journal. What links the two women? And is there a connection between their evaporations, and the inexplicable reappearance of Anna's father after a 24-year walkabout? There is indeed-a tricky, murky one, drawing the Wallenders into a crucible that tests their relationship emotionally and puts them at odds professionally. Though Mankell's novels can be painfully slow, they're never without their virtues, and this case is redeemed by the electricity between a father and daughter too much alike.
From the Publisher
“Mankell is a master of the traditional arts of the crime novel, narrative pacing and suspense.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“An arresting story by an arresting writer … [Mankell] understands and probes the underside of everyday living – in an elegant and artful way.… He is able to look loneliness square in the eye. The result is writing that walks a line between ephemeral and everlasting.”
The Washington Post

“Powerful…. Thoroughly engaging…. Amazingly human characters…. It’s a testament to Mankell’s skill with plot that the story gets more and more urgent as he transforms a series of small mysteries into a much larger thriller…. Mankell [is] a master storyteller.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“I salivate with anticipation at the prospect of more from the pen of Mankell, for he is one of the finest of his genre – a Scandinavian Ian Rankin with a passion for exploring the dark side of human nature…. Mankell builds the tension with care and, as ever, his characters are cleverly rounded….
A masterpiece of atmospheric creation.”
Glasgow Herald

“Few of this genre’s writers – few of any genre’s writers – have been able to balance the ordinary and the grotesque with such literary dash and page-turning brio…. Mankell’s atmospherics … give you metaphysical goose bumps.”
Boston Herald

Product Details

Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
Kurt Wallander Series , #9
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Before the Frost

By Henning Mankell

Random House

Henning Mankell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0676977634

Chapter One

chapter 1

The wind picked up shortly after 9.00 on the evening of August 21, 2001. In a valley to the south of the Rommele Hills, small waves were rippling across the surface of Marebo Lake. The man waiting in the shadows beside the water stretched out his hand to discover the direction of the wind. Virtually due south, he found to his satisfaction. He had chosen the right spot to put out food to attract the creatures he would soon be sacrificing.

He sat on the rock where he had spread out a sweater against the chill. It was a new moon and no light penetrated the thick layer of clouds. Dark enough for catching eels. That's what my Swedish playmate used to say when I was growing up. The eels start their migration in August. That's when they bump into the fishermen's traps and wander the length of the trap. And then the trap slams shut.

His ears, always alert, picked up the sound of a car passing some distance away. Apart from that there was nothing. He took out his torch and directed the beam over the shoreline and water. He could tell that they were approaching. He spotted at least two white patches against the dark water. Soon there would be more.

He switched off the light and tested his mind-exactingly trained-by thinking of the time. Three minutes past nine, he thought. Then he raised his wrist and checked the display. Three minutes past nine-he was right, of course. In another 30 minutes it would all be over. He had learned that humans were not alone in their need for regularity. Wild creatures could even be taught to respect time. It had taken him three months of patience and deliberation to prepare for tonight's sacrifice. He had made himself their friend.

He switched on the torch again. There were more white patches, and they were coming nearer to the shore. Briefly he lit up the tempting meal of broken bread crusts that he had set out on the ground, as well as the two petrol containers. He switched off the light and waited.

When the time came, he did exactly as he had planned. The swans had reached the shore and were pecking at the pieces of bread he had put out for them, oblivious of his presence or by now simply used to him. He set the torch aside and put on his night-vision goggles. There were six swans, three couples. Two were lying down while the rest were cleaning their feathers or still searching for bread.

Now. He got up, took a can in each hand and splashed the swans with petrol. Before they had a chance to fly away, he spread what remained in each of the cans and set light to a clump of dried grass among the swans. The burning petrol caught one swan and then all of them. In their agony, their wings on fire, they tried to fly away over the lake, but one by one plunged into the water like fireballs. He tried to fix the sight and sound of them in his memory; both the burning, screeching birds in the air and the image of hissing, smoking wings as they crashed into the lake. Their dying screams sound like broken trumpets, he thought. That's how I will remember them.

The whole thing was over in less than a minute. He was very pleased. It had gone according to plan, an auspicious beginning for what was to come.

He tossed the petrol cans into the water, tucked his jumper into the backpack and shone the torch around the place to be sure he had left nothing behind. When he was convinced he had remembered everything, he took a mobile phone from his coat pocket. He had bought the phone in Copenhagen a few days before.

When someone answered, he asked to be connected to the police. The conversation was brief. Then he threw the phone into the lake, put on his backpack and walked away into the night.

The wind was blowing from the east now and was growing stronger.

chapter 2

It was the end of August and Linda Caroline Wallander wondered if there were any traits that she and her father had in common which yet remained to be discovered, even though she was almost 30 years old and ought to know who she was by this time. She had asked her father, had even tried to press him on it, but he seemed genuinely puzzled by her questions and brushed them aside, saying that she more resembled her grandfather. These "who-am-I-like?" conversations, as she called them, sometimes ended in fierce arguments. They kindled quickly, but they also died away almost at once. She forgot about most of them and supposed that he did too.

There had been one argument this summer which she had not been able to forget. It had been nothing really. They had been discussing their differing memories of a holiday they took to the island of Bornholm when she was little. For Linda there was more than this episode at stake; it was as if through reclaiming this memory she was on the verge of gaining access to a much larger part of her early life. She had been six, maybe seven years old, and both Mona and her father had been there. The idiotic argument had begun over whether or not it had been windy that day. Her father claimed she had been seasick and had thrown up all over his jacket, but Linda remembered the sea as blue and perfectly calm. They had only ever taken this one trip to Bornholm so it couldn't have been a case of their having mixed up several trips. Her mother had never liked boat journeys and her father was surprised she had agreed to this one holiday to Bornholm.

That evening, after the argument had ended, Linda had had trouble falling asleep. She was due to start working at the Ystad police station in two months. She had graduated from the police training college in Stockholm and would have much rather started working right away, but here she was with nothing to do all summer and her father couldn't keep her company since he had used up most of his holiday allowance in May. That was when he thought he had bought a house and would need extra time for moving. He had the house under contract. It was in Svarte, just south of the main road, right next to the sea. But the vendor changed her mind at the last minute. Perhaps because she couldn't stand the thought of entrusting her carefully tended roses and rhododendron bushes to a man who talked only about where he was going to put the kennel-when he finally bought a dog. She broke the contract and her father's agent suggested he ask for compensation, but he chose not to. The whole episode was already over in his mind.

He hunted for another house that cold and windy summer, but either they were too expensive or just not the house he had been dreaming of all those years in the flat on Mariagatan. He stayed on in the flat and asked himself if he was ever really going to move. When Linda graduated from the police training college, he drove up to Stockholm and helped her move her things to Ystad. She had arranged to rent a flat starting in September. Until then she could have her old room back.

They got on each other's nerves almost immediately. Linda was impatient to start working and accused her father of not pulling strings hard enough at the station to get her a temporary position. He said he had taken the matter up with Chief Lisa Holgersson. She would have welcomed the extra manpower, but there was nothing in the budget for additional staff. Linda would not be able to start until September 10, however much they might have wanted her to start sooner.

Linda spent the interval getting to know again two old school friends. One day she ran into Zeba, or "Zebra" as they used to call her. She had dyed her black hair red and also cut it short so Linda had not recognised her at first. Zeba's family came from Iran, and she and Linda had been in the same class until secondary school. When they bumped into each other on the street this July, Zeba had been pushing a toddler in a pushchair. They had gone to a cafe and had a coffee.

Zeba told her that she had trained as a barmaid, but her pregnancy had put a stop to her work plans. The father was Marcus. Linda remembered him, Marcus who loved exotic fruit and who had started his own plant nursery in Ystad at the age of 19. The relationship had soon ended, but the child remained a fact. Zeba and Linda chatted for a long time, until the toddler started screaming so loudly and insistently that they had to leave. But they had kept in touch since that chance meeting, and Linda noticed that she felt less impatient with the hiatus in her life whenever she managed to build these bridges between her present and the past that she had known in Ystad.

As she was going home to Mariagatan after her meeting with Zeba, it started to rain. She took cover in a shopping centre and-while she was waiting for the weather to clear up-she looked up Anna Westin's number in the directory. She felt a jolt inside when she found it. She and Anna had had no contact for ten years. The close friendship of their childhood had ended abruptly when they both fell in love with the same boy. Afterwards, when the feelings of infatuation were long gone, they had tried to resuscitate the friendship, but it had never been the same. Linda hadn't even thought much about Anna the last couple of years. But seeing Zeba again reminded her of her old friend and she was happy to discover that Anna still lived in Ystad.

Linda called her that evening and a few days later they met. Over the summer they would see each other several times a week, sometimes all three of them, but more often just Anna and Linda. Anna lived on her own as best as she could on her student budget. She was studying medicine.

Linda thought she was almost more shy now than when they were growing up. Anna's father had left home when she was five or six years old and they never once heard from him again. Anna's mother lived out in the country in Loderup, not far from where Linda's grandfather had lived and painted his favourite, unchanging motifs. Anna was apparently pleased that Linda had reestablished contact, but Linda soon realised that she had to tread carefully. There was something vulnerable, almost secretive about Anna and she would not let Linda come too close.

Still, being with her old friends helped to make Linda's summer go by, even though she was counting the days until she was allowed to pick up her uniform from fru Lundberg in the stockroom.

Her father worked flat out all summer, dealing with bank and post-office robberies in the Ystad area. From time to time Linda would hear about one case, which sounded like a series of well-planned attacks. Once her father had gone to bed, Linda would often sneak a look at his notebook and the case file he brought home. But whenever she asked him about the case directly he would avoid answering. She wasn't a police officer yet. Her questions would have to go unanswered until September.

The days went by. In the middle of one afternoon in August her father came home and said that the estate agent had called about a property near Mossbystrand. Would she like to come and see it with him? She called to postpone a rendezvous she had arranged with Zeba, then they got into her father's Peugeot and drove west. The sea was grey. Autumn was in the offing.

chapter 3

The windows were boarded up, one of the drainpipes stuck out at an angle from the gutter, and several roof shingles were missing. The house stood on a hill with a sweeping view of the ocean, but there was something bleak and dismal about it. This is not a place where my father could find peace, Linda thought. Here he'll be at the mercy of his inner demons. But what are they, anyway? She began to list the chief sources of concern in his life, ordering them in her mind: first there was loneliness, then the creeping tendency to obesity and the stiffness in his joints. And beyond these? She put the question aside for the moment and joined her father as he inspected the outside of the house. The wind blew slowly, almost thoughtfully, in some nearby beech trees. The sea lay far below them. Linda squinted and spotted a ship on the horizon.

Kurt Wallander looked at his daughter.

"You look like me when you squint like that," he said.

"Only then?"

They kept walking and behind the house came across the rotting skeleton of a leather sofa. A field vole jumped from the rusting springs. Wallander looked around and shook his head.

"Remind me why I want to move to the country."

"I have no idea. Why do you want to move to the country?"

"I've always dreamed of being able to roll out of bed and walk outside to take my morning piss, if you'll pardon my language."

She looked at him with amusement. "Is that it?"

"Do I need a better reason than that? Come on, let's go."

"Let's walk round the house one more time."

This time she looked more closely at the place, as if she were the prospective buyer and her father the agent. She sniffed around like an animal.

"How much?"

"Four hundred thousand."

She raised her eyebrows.

"That's what it says," he said.

"Do you have that much money?"

"No, but the bank has pre-approved my loan. I'm a trusted customer, a policeman who has always been as good as his word. I think I'm even disappointed I don't like this place. An abandoned house is as depressing as a lonely person."

They drove away. Linda read a sign by the side of the road: Mossbystrand. He glanced at her.

"Do you want to go there?"

"Yes. If you have time."

This was where she had first told him of her decision to become a police officer. She was done with her vague plan to refinish furniture or to work in the theatre, as well as with her backpacking trips around the world. It was a long time since she had broken up with her first love, a boy from Kenya who had studied medicine in Lund. He had finally gone back to Kenya and she had stayed put. Linda had looked to her mother, Mona, to provide her with clues about how to live her own life, but all she saw in her mother was a woman who left everything half done. Mona had wanted two children and had only had one. She had thought that Kurt Wallander would be the great and only passion of her life, but she had divorced him and married a golf-playing retired banker from Malmo.

Excerpted from Before the Frost by Henning Mankell Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Henning Mankell is the internatinally acclaimed, bestselling author of the Kurt Wallander novels.  Mankell's novels have been translated into forty-five languages and have sold more than forty million copies worldwide. He was the first winner of the Ripper Award and also received the Glass Key and the Crime Writers’ Association Golden Dagger, among other awards. His Kurt Wallander mysteries have been adapted into a PBS television series starring Kenneth Branagh. During his life, Mankell divided his time between Sweden and Mozambique, where he was artistic director of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo. He died in 2015.


Brief Biography

Mozambique, Africa
Date of Birth:
February 3, 1948
Place of Birth:
Stockholm, Sweden
Folkskolan Elementary Shool, Sveg; Högre Allmäna Läroverket, Borås

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Before the Frost (Kurt Wallander Series #9 & Linda Wallander Series #1) 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an avid fan of Mankell's, I was really disappointed in the inconsistent and whiny character development of Linda. Looking at Wallander through her eyes was boring and made him seem bumbling, fat, and irritable. Linda's character has no depth, and she makes annoying statements and decisions. The introduction of Stefan was also undeveloped, as he just shows up and becomes Linda's love interest. Mankell is better than this. The voice of Linda is weak and annoying. I am hopeful that his next book allows Wallander to regain the storyline.
harstan More than 1 year ago
No one is more proud of Linda Wallender graduating from the Swedish Police Academy than her dad Chief Inspector Kurt Wallender. Linda looks forward to begin work at the Ystad Police Department and ultimately to find a flat of her own having lived with dear old dad until now.--- Dad is eager to mentor his daughter and she is eager to learn from him how to run an investigation though her patience runs thin when he becomes protectively fatherly. Still while Kurt struggles to stop a religious extremist seemingly setting up a mass murder, Linda investigates on her own. Dad frets over her safety because of the disappearance of her friend Anna Westin, who vanished shortly after her father reentered her life after he went away and did not returning for over two decades. As Wallander the younger seeks clues from a variety of sources including Anna¿s journal, another young woman named in the journal, vanishes. The case has the Wallenders arguing and putting up a FIREWALL between them as the teacher-pupil relationship falls into a more adversarial situation with each feeling ONE STEP BEHIND the other in pursuit of FACELESS KILLERS. They must cooperate if they are to uncover the dark goings on as their two cases have merged.--- The Kurt Wallender Swedish police procedurals has been some of the best the sub-genre has had to offer over the last few years to include novels translated like these or originally in English. The latest story BEFORE THE FROST takes an intriguing spin as Kurt shares top billing with a chip off the old block his own daughter Linda. The two subplots merge effortlessly so that the audience receives another winning cop tale from talented Henning Mankell.--- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this Wallender book so disappointing. Mankell would have done his readers justice by having Wallender's indulgent daughter as a victim. The Branaugh movie was much better leaving Linda Wallender with a very small role. The screenwriter realized Mankell missed the boat on this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jhave liked all of Henninh Mankell's books. I would recommend them to anyone who likes Mystery.
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Sailorbill More than 1 year ago
This is Linda Wallander series #1. Although Linda has appeared in prior novels, here she is the protagonist. The story takes place as Linda is at home with Kurt Wallander and preparing to start work with the police department. If you like the Wallander series, you'll like this one. Linda is developing into as complex and interesting a character and her father. Despite the similarities between Linda and her father (or perhaps because of them), the interactions between the two is always interesting and edgy (to put it mildly). The plot is fairly complex and involves a group of religious fanatics operating in Sweden (but with its leader's roots tracing back to Jonestown). This book does not unfold at a breakneck pace; Wallander novels don't do that. There are few miraculous breakthroughs...just solid investigative work, the way you would imagine it happens in reality. The pace, however, picks up tremendously at the end. In conclusion, if you like the Wallander series, you'll like this series.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
All of Mankell's other novels are really excellent. This one is only pretty good. I think he new it was below par so he added a sappy ending to try and fix it up. A waste of good reading time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Almost 17 dollars is a bit much. Would love to read it but my book budget can't handle it.
silky More than 1 year ago
Linda and Kurt Wallaner