My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Someone is murdering men with a hatchet, cleaving their heads and taking their scalps. Author Mankell relates this tale from two perspectives, that of Kurt Wallender, lead detective, and the killer himself. It takes a while before these perspectives begin to merge, and Wallender berates himself for not recognizing the awful truth sooner. The crimes themselves constitute the bones of this tale, which is fleshed out by the thoughts of cop and criminal. Wallender is, as always in this series, a lonely man whose joys in life derive from the company of his daughter, and sometimes, of a good woman. He’s feeling burnt out by all he’s experienced as a cop, but he doesn’t have a clue about what other path he might take. But he’s considering it. The killer is deranged, but he’s not what he’s assumed to be by those who’ve studied his crimes.
From what I’ve read by Mankell and Stieg Larsson, the Sweden of today is struggling with the prevalence of crimes against girls and women. While I enjoyed their books, including Sidetracked, I found myself growing irritated by comments in dialogs that express surprise that such crimes, considered typically American, could happen in Sweden. Well, they can and they do. Annoyance aside, Sidetracked is a police procedural with a heart, well worth reading.