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He had been a police officer for over thirty years, and had progressed from a probationer patrolling the streets of Malmö to become an experienced and respected detective who has successfully solved numerous difficult cases of serious crime. Even if he could not be pleased with his life as a human being, he could be pleased with his performance as a police officer. He had done his job well, and perhaps helped people to feel more secure. …
It suddenly struck him how everything had changed during his many years as a police officer. When he has first started to patrol the streets there was a big difference between what happened in a city like Malmö and in small towns like Ystad. But nowadays there was hardly any difference at all. …
He stood up, put on his jacket, that had been draped over his visitor chair, and left the office. His thoughts remained inside the room, the questions unanswered.
He drove home through the dark streets. Rainwater was glistening on the asphalt. His head was suddenly empty.
from: An Event in Autumn
A Life Devoted to Shed Light on the Darkness
Scandic Noir is a genre established by the novels of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö about Martin Beck from Stockholm during the 60s. Somewhat later Henning Mankell started his series about Kurt Wallander from Ystad on Sweden’s southern coast which is even more violent and extraordinarily gloomy. Both series are often regarded as the backbone of the genre.
I’m sure that I didn’t get all about the details of the genre’s development during the last decades – there are quite a lot of authors making deep dives into crime and all levels of society, especially the into the bottom of society, to enlarge the specific dark background of people and social setting. Wallander, however, is one of the most intriguing characters and a prototype for the depressing professional life a committed investigator experiences.
The novels cover a big part of Wallander’s life. You are not only faced with crimes of all shades, but also with Wallander’s personal fate. He is married with a daughter and later divorced. The relationship with his daughter is tricky, if not bad, but later on they learn to get on. His daughter becomes a policewoman and marries … and there is a grandchild.
Wallander undergoes several on-off relationships with women. He isn’t able to establish a solid new living together. Partly it’s because he consumes too much alcohol when dealing with scary cases, partly it’s because he feels lonesome. He develops diabetes, later on he is in the initial stage of Alzheimer’s – so he has to quit his job.
His father also suffered from Alzheimer’s. Only late in life he reunited with his son whom he never fully accepted as it seems because he became a policeman. Wallander buries him finally, only a short time before he experiences signs of the disease.
Is Wallander a happy man?
It doesn’t seem so. His private life sometimes shows scenes of happiness, at least satisfaction. However, his professional life is overshadowed by his dramatic cases.
Wallander is a being like everybody else; he is no hero or daredevil. He meets murder and more awful criminal business, victims and offenders, innocent – or not so innocent – bystanders. All cross his daily paths and leave behind some imprint on him.
Wallander is determined to solve his cases, even if he has to approach the dark abyss inside murderers and their victims. It doesn’t leave him unimpressed, especially when dealing with white slavery, prostitution, organized smuggling. Sometimes he finds almost hidden leads to colleagues of the police establishment.
Wallander’s cases seem trivial – sometimes – but always extrodinarily violent. He doesn’t live in a charming countryside, but it’s a region with lots of hidden crime under the apparently calm and secluded surface.