Scandinavian Noir pioneer Henning Mankell dead

London, Oct 5 (IANS) Swedish author and playwright Henning Mankell, whose best-selling mystery series featuring the dour Inspector Kurt Wallander were among the first in what is now famous as Scandinavian crime fiction or Nordic Noir, and revealed his country’s dark side, has died. He was 67.

“Henning Mankell is dead. He died in his sleep early this morning in Göteborg. He was 67 years old,” said a post on the author’s official website on Monday.

Mankell, who divided his time between Sweden and Mozambique where he was the artistic director of a local theatre, was suffering from cancer, BBC reported. He had announced he had the disease in a newspaper column in January 2014 and had also written about his experiences in the recently published “Quicksand: What It Means To Be A Human Being”.

The son-in-law of famous Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, Mankell was also a committed activist right from his youth and was also on board a flotilla that had tried to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza in 2010.

He also wrote books for children, but was mostly known for his 40 novels that have been translated into 40 languages and of which the best-known were the dozen-strong Wallander series, all starring the Inspector but the last one, which had his daughter Linda, who has also joined the police, in the lead.

Beginning with “The Faceless Killers” (1991, English translation 1997), they were mostly set in Ystad in south Sweden, but the second “The Dogs of Riga” (1992, English 2001) takes Inspector Wallender to the newly-free Latvia and “The White Lioness” (1993, English 1998), which has a plot to assassinate then South African president F.W. De Klerk, is also set in Africa.

Like the iconic Martin Beck series of the husband-wife pair of Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, it attempted to understand what had gone wrong with the Swedish welfare state and why crime was gaining ground in a relatively prosperous society.

Mankell’s other fiction includes “Kennedy’s Brain” (2007) which deals with the HIV epidemic in Africa, and – like John le Carre’s “The Constant Gardener” – on the cupidity of multinational pharmaceutical companies, and “The Man from Beijing” in which the unearthing of a massacre in a Swedish settlement leads a dogged prosecutor into international intrigue.

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