“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.”
“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.”
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
''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
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.