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The Pyramid: The Origins of Kurt Wallander [Paperback]

Henning Mankell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 6 2009
Now available for the first time in paperback from Vintage Canada, this international bestseller is the missing piece of the critically acclaimed Kurt Wallander mystery series: the story of Wallander's beginnings.

The Pyramid
is the prequel to the bestselling Kurt Wallander series, and reintroduces readers to a character they thought they knew everything about. Here, we see Wallander as a twenty-one-year-old patrolman, as a young father facing an unexpected danger on Christmas Eve, as a budding detective on the brink of middle age solving a case of poisoning, as an investigator solving the murder of a local photographer, and finally as a veteran detective discovering unexpected connections between a downed mystery plane and the assassination of a pair of spinster sisters. Watching this fascinating character come into his own and develop his signature methodical and instinctive work style, makes for riveting reading.

The Pyramid is vintage Mankell, and a must-have for his many fans.

Frequently Bought Together

The Pyramid: The Origins of Kurt Wallander + The Troubled Man + Firewall: A Kurt Wallander Mystery (8)
Price For All Three: CDN$ 44.00


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The five stories in this outstanding collection from Mankell (Faceless Killers) provide glimpses into Kurt Wallander's early life as a policeman as well as paint evocative portraits of contemporary Swedish society. An unremarkable businessman is poisoned in The Man on the Beach but—in typical Mankell fashion—the case is larger, more complex and more interesting than it first appears. In the volume's best entry, The Death of the Photographer, Simon Lamberg takes studio portraits of weddings and children, but a couple of nights each week, he uses his darkroom to distort published photographs of politicians and newsworthy people for a macabre personal scrapbook. It's a bizarre hobby, but the cause of Lamberg's brutal, apparently senseless death is an even stranger puzzle. Like the Wallander novels, these stories rank among the finest police procedurals being written today. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"To his legions of North American readers, Henning Mankell is the unrivalled master of Swedish crime fiction and one of the finest practitioners of the genre anywhere."
Toronto Star

"A marvel of spare, purposeful prose and artful storytelling."
St. Petersburg Times

"Superb. . . . Mankell has mastered his craft."
Tampa Bay Tribune

"Sure to bring [Mankell's] fans stampeding back into the fold."
The New York Times

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars So so purchase Nov. 27 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
too much talk. The third story is worthy but the first two are a disappointment; not of the sme style as the books we are used to.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The missing years Aug. 13 2010
Format:Paperback
Excellent stories about the principal caracter, Kurt wallander, answering all the questions we had about his past.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  79 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Kurt Wallander detective novels July 19 2010
By Israel Drazin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Following the phenomenal success of the late Swedish writer Stieg Larsson's three novels, a groundswell of interest rose to read other Swedish crime fiction. Many turned to Hemming Mankell, already successful in selling his Kurt Wallander detective thrillers and the TV movies based on some of them.

Mankell's Wallander crime books were first published in Sweden in 1991 and in English in 1997. His first volume involved a Wallander case in 1990 when Wallander was a senior detective 42 years old. After completing eight full-length Wallander novels, and after receiving requests from his readers, Mankell decided to write short stories telling the early tales of his detective. These five stories were collected in The Pyramid.

The first, Wallander's First Case, begins in 1969 when Wallander is twenty. He takes a job as a patrolman against the strong mocking objections of his eccentric father. He wants to be a detective. He works hard and spends hours learning the ropes to impress his superiors. He has a girl friend who constantly criticizes him for being late, even though she knows that he is late because of his job. He lives in an apartment with thin walls and hears a gun shot. He is told by the detectives that his neighbor committed suicide. He feels that he must investigate to find out what really occurred even though the detective in charge insists that he not do so. Readers read asking themselves many questions. Will his actions stymie his goal to be a detective? Will he solve the case? What strange people will he encounter? Why do people dislike patrolmen? Why is he stabbed?

The second story is The Man with the Mask. It is 1975. Wallander is now a detective and married to his girl friend. She is still complaining that he is always late. When he is leaving to go home, his superior sends him to a store to investigate whether a woman who called the police saying that there is a strange man outside her store is in danger. Wallander finds the woman dead. He is hit on the head and tied up. When he regains consciousness, he sees a man with a hood holding a gun. Why is the man there? Why did he kill the woman? Does he want to kill the detective? How can Wallendar save himself?

The Man on the Beach is the third tale. It is 1987. Wallander is having serious problems with his wife. He expects a divorce. A man takes a taxi from a beach back to town. When the ride is over, the driver discovers that the man is dead. The coroner says he died of poison. When was it administered? Why? Who did it? Why was the man at the beach?

The Death of a Photographer, the fourth story, occurs in 1988 when Wallendar is forty. A photographer, who was estranged from his wife for twenty years, although both lived in the same house, is clubbed to death. He had taken pictures of prominent people, mostly politicians, and distorted them, making the faces recognizable but ugly. One picture is of Wallendar who is revolted at what he sees. Why did the photographer do this? Is he crazy? Why did he garble Wallander's face? Are the distortions related to his murder?

The Pyramid is the longest of the five tales. It is 1989. Wallendar is divorced. He is involved in a case of a small plane crash where two smugglers are killed. Later more people are killed, including two erasable spinster women who run a small sowing shop but have millions in the bank and in stocks. Is there more than one crime? Can Wallendar solve everything?
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stronger on character, weaker on plot July 13 2010
By St. Louis Book Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm an odd duck when it comes to mysteries. I'd rather read a mystery where the writer has done tons of work to develop a credible, complex, rich character than a book where the author has built an intricate plot but neglected character. With that preface, I'll admit that I liked these five Kurt Wallender stories a good deal.

Wallender is a likable, and mildly conflicted, guy. We see him age twenty years over the course of these stories, and the reader can't help notice, by the end of the book, that Wallender is suffering middle-age angst, accompanied by doubts about the future of Swedish culture in a world of increasing drug traffic and violence. The character of Kurt Wallender is the best reason for picking this book up, along with interest in northern European culture and day-to-day life. Indeed, these stories are full of Wallender's daily living (e.g., the man has to sign up to do his laundry in his building's only washing machine; remembering to buy toilet paper in the course of a busy investigation is another minor challenge). There's plenty of realism here, and I like that; Wallender and his police work end up seeming real. He's not a super hero.

My one complaint, though, is that the stories frequently seem hurried (perhaps evenly poorly thought out) in their conclusions. Wallender faces physical violence, sometimes almost out of the blue, in the last page or two, followed by a quick explanation of who committed the crime and why. (The worst example of this is found in the final pages of "The Death of the Photographer," where Wallender briefs his police colleagues on how the crime was committed and what motivated the perpetrator. The scene is all too reminiscent of cozy mysteries where the detective shares his wisdom at the very end of the story. An odd way to end a story that is, like the other stories in the book, otherwise a police procedural.)

If you're looking for suspenseful plotting, this might not be the best choice. If, on the other hand, you want to live for a while in the mind of a low-key, hard-working Swedish cop, and you enjoy a book that is strong on atmosphere and setting, you will likely want to pour yourself a good cup of coffee and dig into this collection. (For my part, I plan to pick up Faceless Killers, Mankell's first Wallender novel, in the next week or two.)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you're going to read the Kurt Wallender series, read this one first Aug. 3 2011
By Mike in Glen Head, NY - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's usually a good idea to read a mystery series in order so that you can follow the development of the detective's character throughout his or her career. In most cases you can read a series in order by publication date. However, in Henning Mankell's ten book Kurt Wallender series, "The Pyramid, which is the ninth book published, is chronologically the first book in the series. As Mankell explains in the forward, "When Wallender appeared on the scene ... he had been a policeman for many years ... Readers have wondered." And so, Mankell decided to publish "The Pyramid", which consists of three short novels and two short stories, to give us the background that we were missing.

In the first story, Wallender is a twenty-one-year rookie cop who finds his next door neighbor dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He's not convinced that the man committed suicide and investigates on his own, showing the perseverance and insight that will eventually lead him to become a detective.

The next exciting story takes place a few years later. Wallendar, now a detective, confronts a robber who has murdered a store owner on Christmas Eve. With the killer pointing a gun at him, Wallender must stay alive by keeping the killer talking until help arrives.

In the third story, a taxi driver finds that his passenger has died in the back seat of his cab. It first appears that the man had a heart attack, but it turns out that he was poisoned. Wallender investigates to find out where the victim was coming from and why he was murdered.

The next story is about a photographer who has been found beaten to death in his studio. Wallender finds a strange album, where the photographer has created distorted images of politicians and other leaders. Could this have something to do with his murder?

In the last story, a plane, which is flying low at night to avoid radar, drops something onto a remote field. A short time later, the plane crashes, killing both smugglers. Then two spinster sisters who own a button store are murdered and it turns out that they were somehow immensely wealthy. When a drug dealer is found shot and the bullet matches the bullets that killed sisters, Wallender has to connect all these people and events together to solve the puzzle. Then, in the middle of the investigation, he has to fly to Egypt to rescue his father who has been arrested for illegally attempting to climb a pyramid.

Throughout the stories, Mankell fills in a lot of other background that readers had been asking for. We meet Wallender's wife, Mona, his daughter, Linda, and see him divorced. We learn about his relationship with his father and his attitude towards Swedish society. Now that I have this background, I look forward to reading the first published book in the series, "Faceless Killers".
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for Wallander fans, but opportunities are missed Feb. 14 2010
By In Vino Veritas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Recommend these stories to Wallander fans, as they nicely close the loop. Not recommended for newbies. Plusses in this volume include: details of Wallander's often-referred-to stabbing as a rookie patrolman, a glimpse of how his marriage to Mona was doomed from the start, and the way that the title story ends with the beginning of the first novel, Faceless Killers. Problems that I have with Mankell's writing style (or maybe the English translations?) are all in evidence here, e.g., still too many pages of Wallander eating, sleeping, driving around, and blundering in alone when he knows he shouldn't, followed by rushed solutions to complicated crimes through external forces in the last few pages. I'm giving it only 4 stars because Mankell missed opportunities in this volume to show Mona as anything other than a 1-dimensional b***h, to give us any new insight into daughter Linda (didn't she attempt suicide a couple times?), or to show us, instead of constantly telling us, why Wallander's partner-mentor Rydberg is so brilliant an investigator. And that visitor chair in his office has been broken since 1989? C'mon, isn't there an IKEA in Malmo?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great mystery by superb Swedish author April 10 2011
By Christian W. Zauner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Henning Mankell, a Swede, is a master of mystery writing. This book is one of the Inspector Kurt Wallener series. The reader is left to the last few pages before being certain of who dunnit. The tale is set in Skona the southernmost Swedish province. I have lived in that area and can confess to the accuracy of scenery, communities, weather, and maps presented in this book. This made it doubly interesting to me, but I need to assure that having such pre-knowledge is not necessary fot the reader to thoroughly enjoy this book.
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