Fans of Scandinavian noir are mourning the death of Henning Mankell, the author The New York Times has crowned “the dean” of the increasingly popular genre. Mankell penned the well-loved Kurt Wallander series, starring the eponymous detective and his uncanny ability to solve crimes, most of them brutal, and many occurring in and around the real-life town of Ystad, located on the Baltic Sea south of Stockholm. The town has become a literary pilgrimage site for many noir readers.
While Mankell’s thrillers are placed in Scandinavia, the writer often wove international themes into his books, exploring Northern Europe’s relationship with the rest of the world. Mankell’s work with theater in Mozambique enabled him to write about the clash of cultures with new insight, as in his first book in the Wallander series Faceless Killers, which centers around the reaction in Ystad to a murder allegedly involving a foreigner. Inspector Wallander finished his career a few years before his creator, with the last book in the series, The Troubled Man, published in 2009, in which he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The beloved detective will be well-remembered, as will his author, who died of cancer October 5 in Goteborg, Sweden.