My first exposure to Swedish novelist Henning Mankell was his mystery Firewall, which features the indelible detective Kurt Wallander. Unbeknownst to me at that time, Wallander is so famous that he's been featured on TV and in film.
Better late than never. Now I can't get enough Wallander. He's brooding, often grumpy, and has terrible dietary habits and sleep patterns. His marriage dissolves but he loves his daughter from that marriage deeply. His father is a cranky artist who always paints the same scene. And Wallander--despite his gruff front--cares about his colleagues and mentors, a group that works together over many years to solve shocking crimes.
These are more than hard-boiled mysteries, as the psychological nuances of Wallander evolve throughout the novels. But they are page-turners nonetheless. Yesterday I held all calls to complete the long novella that concludes The Pyramid. Ostensibly the day's tasks were to include laundry, but this became a task deferred. Blame Wallander, not me. And anyway, the laundry is done by now.
To be sure, there is more richness and complexity in the works of George Eliot and Virginia Woolf than in those of Henning Mankell. Middlemarch and To the Lighthouse are classics of world literature, and as much as I love Wallander I can't put him in that pantheon. That's ok though--the effort to reward ratio for Mankell is quite attractive, and sometimes that's all that matters.