Although the Nazis called themselves National Socialists they were the opposite: fascists.
On the political spectrum fascists would be considered "extreme right", socialists "far left", and communists "extreme left". Mankell knows his history.
I love Mankell's novels precisely because of the dark Scandinavian mood. Kurt Wallander, the main character in many of his books, is a haunting portrait of a detective in his 50s who is questioning his life, his work, and the personal price it has extracted. He feels a duty to society to take on the difficult, exhausting, and grisly task of solving murders. He worries about what may be the breakdown of modern society and he is not sure his work has any measurable effect. His country is coping with major societal shifts resulting from the dissolution of the USSR, immigration, and globalization. His loneliness and depression are palpable yet he yearns for hope, meaning, and connection. I come away with a respect for the emotional honesty of a character that thinks and feels rather some two dimensional "shoot 'em up" type hero. I wonder about the people who tackle these issues in real life and what we ask of them.
Stefan Lindman, the protagonist in this book, is facing somewhat similar personal issues because of the possibility of death but he can bounce back more easily because of his relative youth. He has to grapple with evil, past and present, memory, retribution, and forgiveness. I find Wallander a more compelling character but I will take Mankell's writing however I can get it. Paradoxically, when I finish these books I feel rejuvenated and grateful for my life.
If you enjoy these books you may also like The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson.
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