Book Critique - An Event In Autumn

Stars: 3.5 / 5

Recommendation: A quick and easy read for anyone who wants to pick up murder mysteries but want to avoid the gorier and grittier parts.

An Event In Autumn is the 2014 translation of the 2004 Swedish novella Handen, originally written by Henning Mankell, translated by Lauire Thompson.

After watching both Swedish and British versions of Kurt Wallander TV Series (My review comparing both the series here), I always wanted to read the original books as well, of course the English translated ones since I don’t read or understand Swedish language. At a recent book sale when I came across this book I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to own it and then read it.

Henning Mankell had written 13 books keeping his favorite detective Kurt Wallander as the central focus and 1 book for Linda Wallander - Kurt's daughter. Kurt Wallander lives and works in Ystad, Sweden. He has a daughter Linda Wallander who also walks in his footsteps and becomes a police officer. Henning ends Kurt Wallander series with his protagonist developing Alzheimer's disease much like Kurt's father in the books. Sad ending for a distinguished officer. 

I wondered always why Mankell had given such an ending to his character. In fact this is a question that comes to my mind any time when an author abruptly ends his or her character or kills them or provides them a sad closure. What makes them do that? I may not know the answer for this question for Kurt Wallander from Mankell, however he himself had provided answer for a different question.

After finishing with Kurt Wallander, Mankell had written the first book Innan frosten (translated again by Ebba Segerberg into English as Before the Frost), with Linda Wallander as the central character, with a sort of trilogy to follow. However with the untimely death of Johanna Sällström, the actress who was portraying the role of Linda Wallander in the Swedish TV series, he was so distraught that he stopped completely writing any books for Wallander. It's so interesting how one character can affect a writer or director or film maker. 

Incidentally Before the Frost was the first episode - Season I Episode I - filmed for the Swedish version while it was filmed as the third and final episode for Season III for the British version.

Anyways, coming back to this book in question; Basic plot is another murder that literally falls into Kurt Wallander's lap, more like across his feet. Wallander's partner Jan Martinson gives the keys of a house that has come up for sale to look at it, since Wallander was hunting for a home to move into from his apartment. When he goes to check out the house, he accidentally stubs his toe into a skeleton hand that is thrust up from the ground. And thus begins Wallander's investigation into this cold case.

We get to see that Wallander is facing with the initial symptoms of Alzheimer's disease but reluctant to identify them. Yet he seems sharp as a tack while solving the case. Although this case is not as much raw as the other books and much much less grittier.

Laurie Thompson had done a very good job in translating the book. Yet, after finishing it I felt like reading a script for an episode of the show - perhaps that is how the original book was written as well. All elements of investigation, frustration the police face when there are so many questions to be answered, the roadblocks their superiors put across and the personal turbulences the investigators have - everything has been tightly knit together in this small novella. Just it felt more scripted than like a novel at times.

All in all a very good story from Henning Mankell in his Wallander series. Will I read more books in this series? Perhaps but I might want to try other authors who have translated his works into English before I pick up another of Laurie Thompson's translation.

A quick and easy read for anyone who wants to pick up murder mysteries but want to avoid the gorier and grittier parts.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Plot Reveals:

a. I didn’t find this novella becoming a TV episode in the Swedish version of this series. However, I noticed quite a lot of differences between the British version of this episode as opposed to the book

i. Linda Wallander is still living with her father and very much single in the book as opposed to being married, with a child and living with her husband in the TV episode

ii. Wallander is looking for a house in the novel as opposed to already bought and living in a new home by the see in the TV episode

iii. Wallander is single in the novel while he has a girlfriend Vanja Andersson in the TV episode who lives with him in the new home along with her son

iv. The skeletal remains are found in the house that Wallander goes to see in the novel while a piece of body floats to the beach by the shore where Wallander's new home is.

v. There is one crime scene which happens to be the house in the novel while there are two crime scenes in the TV episode - one a ship from which the body part came and another one his home he had moved to just recently - two different crimes being investigated apparently.


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