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".