Kurt Wallander story: An Event in Autumn by Henning Mankell

For years now, Henning Mankell has been telling us he’d written the very last Kurt Wallander story. Now, another one has turned up. Mankell explains in an Afterword that he’d actually written An Event in Autumn many years ago as a bonus for Dutch readers. Since he was recently asked for a complete list of the Wallander stories, he felt compelled to include it . . . which, for some reason, meant getting it republished.

He mightn’t have bothered.

Mankell is probably incapable of writing a bad book. An Event in Autumn isn’t awful — it throws a little more light on Chief Inspector Wallander’s endlessly complex character — but it offers little of the highly charged action that appear in other novels in this widely acclaimed series. It might be said that Autumn‘s brevity — it’s a novelette, really — has something to do with the lack of energy the work generates, but I’ve read ten-page stories in which more happens.

An Event in Autumn (Kurt Wallander #10) by Henning Mankell (2014) 178 pages ★★★☆☆

Henning Mankell

However, Mankell’s Afterword and an essay that follows entitled “Mankell on Wallander” make the book well worthwhile reading after all. Mankell writes about how he came up with his detective’s name; the origins of the series in his desire to write about racism in Sweden; the halting, step-by-step process through which a standalone novel (Faceless Killers) actually became a series of ten books; his relationship with Wallander fans; and his complex relationship with his most famous character. It’s not often that the reading public gets such a chance to peer into the gray matter of a favorite writer. I loved it.

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