There are multiple Wallander versions on the small and the big screens (my favorite is the Kenneth Brannagh one), but there’s only one book series.
Who is Kurt Wallander?
Kurt Wallander is a fictional character created by Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell. He is a cop working for the Ystad police department. He is the kind of detective that invests himself on a very personal level in order to solve a crime.
Divorced, Wallander also has a daughter who, like him, became a cop. She is at the center of one book, but Mankell didn’t give her a series after the suicide of the actress playing the role in the Swedish TV series.
Wallander Books in Order:
This is a chronological reading order, with Linda’s book in it:
- The Pyramid – It’s a prequel and a collection of stories. Wallander on his homicide first case as a twenty-one-year-old patrolman, but also as a young father facing unexpected danger on Christmas Eve, as a middle-aged detective with his marriage on the brink, as a newly separated investigator solving the brutal murder of a local photographer, and finally as a veteran detective.
- Faceless Killers – A better entry point in the series. On a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander has one tangible clue – the dying woman’s last word, but it’s foreign.
- The Dogs of Riga – On the Swedish coastline, two bodies, victims of grisly torture and cold execution, are discovered in a life raft. After the victims are traced to the Baltic state of Latvia, Major Liepa of the Riga police takes over the investigation. Wallander is called to Riga and plunged into an alien world where shadows are everywhere, everything is watched, and old regimes will do anything to stay alive.
- The White Lioness – The execution-style murder of a Swedish housewife looks like a simple case even though there is no obvious suspect. But then Wallander learns of a determined stalker, and soon enough, the cops catch up with him. But when his alibi turns out to be airtight, they realize that what seemed a simple crime of passion is actually far more complex – and dangerous.
- The Man Who Smiled – After killing a man in the line of duty, Kurt Wallander resolves to quit the Ystad police. However, a bizarre case gets under his skin.
- Sidetracked – Kurt Wallander is called to a nearby rapeseed field where a teenage girl has been loitering all day long. He arrives just in time to watch her douse herself in gasoline and set herself aflame. The next day he is called to a beach where Sweden’s former Minister of Justice has been axed to death and scalped. The murder has the obvious markings of a demented serial killer, and Wallander is frantic to find him before he strikes again.
- The Fifth Woman – Inspector Kurt Wallander is baffled and appalled by two murders. Holger Eriksson, a retired car dealer and bird watcher, is impaled on sharpened bamboo poles in a ditch behind his secluded home, and the body of a missing florist is discovered – strangled and tied to a tree. The only clues Wallander has to go on are a skull, a diary, and a photo of three men.
- One Step Behind – On Midsummer’s Eve, three role-playing teens dressed in eighteenth-century garb are shot in a secluded Swedish meadow. When one of Inspector Kurt Wallander’s most trusted colleagues also turns up dead, Wallander knows the murders are related. But with his only clue a picture of a woman no one in Sweden seems to know.
- Firewall – A body is found at an ATM the apparent victim of heart attack. Then two teenage girls are arrested for the brutal murder of a cab driver. The girls confess to the crime showing no remorse whatsoever. But Wallander delves deeper into the mystery of why the girls murdered the cab driver he begins to unravel a plot much more involved complicated than he initially suspected.
- Before the Frost – A Linda Wallander story, Kurt is here as a secondary character. Just graduated from the police academy, Linda returns to Skane to join the police force. Before she even starts work she becomes embroiled in the case of her childhood friend Anna, who has inexplicably disappeared.
- An Event in Autumn – After nearly thirty years in the same job, Kurt Wallander is tired, restless, and itching to make a change. He is taken with a certain old farmhouse, perfectly situated in a quiet countryside with a charming, overgrown garden. There he finds the skeletal hand of a corpse in a shallow grave.
- The Troubled Man – A retired navy officer has vanished in a forest near Stockholm. Kurt Wallander is prepared to stay out of the relatively straightforward investigation – which is, after all, another detective’s responsibility – but the missing man is his daughter’s father-in-law.