My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Three apparently unrelated crimes keep Wallander and his team frantically on their toes throughout the entirety of One Step Behind. Kurt is operating at far less than 100%, because a couple of decades of high stress, no exercise, and unhealthy eating habits have finally taken their toll on his abused body. His blood sugar levels are such that they interfere with his thinking and leave him so fatigued that he can barely function at times. Nevertheless, Kurt resolutely ignores doctor’s orders, putting his own well-being on the back burner while he tries to decipher a series of cruel murders, one of which victimizes a colleague.
Applying his usual incomparable writing prowess, author Mankell keeps readers on tenterhooks as they follow the details of Wallander’s investigation. The team itself is scared and spooked, and their fears about the violence that is overtaking their beloved Sweden provide constant background noise. An interesting new relationship between Kurt and a woman detective, who is familiar from earlier entries in this series, leads to speculation about where it might lead in future books. One of the messages threading through the plot, as Kurt is compelled to search deeper than he likes into the background of his slain friend, is that we never know the people around us as well as we think we do. One Step Behind is a meticulous and exacting police procedural with beautifully drawn characters; one can’t help but relate to nearly all of them, including the perpetrator. A first rate crime novel, and a worthy addition to the Wallander chronicles.