Henning Mankell

The Pyramid

The ninth book in the Kurt Wallander series, 2008

Translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg with Laurie Thompson

To Rolf Lassgard

with great warmth, gratitude,

and not a little admiration.

He has told me so much

about Wallander that I myself

did not know.


It was only after I had written the eighth and final instalment in the series about Kurt Wallander that I thought of the subtitle I had always sought but never found. When everything, or at least most of it, was over, I understood that the subtitle naturally had to be 'Novels about the Swedish Anxiety'.

But of course I arrived too late at this insight. And this despite the fact that the books have always been variations on a single theme: 'What is happening to the Swedish welfare state in the 1990s? How will democracy survive if the foundation of the welfare state is no longer intact? Is the price of Swedish democracy today too high and no longer worth paying?'

And it is precisely these questions that have also been the subject of the majority of the letters I have received. Many readers have had wise thoughts to share. Indeed, I feel confirmed in my impression that Wallander has in a way served as a kind of mouthpiece for growing insecurity, anger and healthy insights about the relationship between the welfare state and democracy. There have been thick letters and slender postcards from places around the world that I have never heard of, telephone calls that have reached me at odd hours, agitated voices that have spoken to me via email.

Beyond these matters of the welfare state and democracy, I have also been asked other questions. Some of them have regarded inconsistencies that many readers have gleefully discovered. In almost all cases in which readers have brought 'errors' to light, they have been correct. (And let me immediately add that new inconsistencies will be discovered even in this volume. Let me simply say that what appears in this volume is what should stand. Let no shadow fall upon any editor. I could not have had a better one than Eva Stenberg.)

But most of the letters have posed the following question: what happened to Wallander before the series began? Everything, to set an exact date, before 8 January 1990. The early winter morning when Wallander is awakened in his bed by a telephone call, the beginning of Faceless Killers. I have a great sympathy for the fact that people wonder how it all began. When Wallander appeared on the scene he was forty-two, going on forty-three. But by then he had been a policeman for many years, he had been married and divorced, had a child, and, once upon a time, had left Malmo for Ystad.

Readers have wondered. And naturally I have also sometimes wondered. During these past nine years I have sometimes cleaned out drawers, dug through dusty piles of paper, or searched among the ones and zeros of diskettes.

Several years ago, right after I was done with the fifth book, Sidetracked, I realised that I had started to write stories in my head that took place long before the start of the series. Again, this magical date, 8 January 1990.

Now I have gathered these stories. Some have already been published in newspapers. Those I have gone over lightly. Some chronological errors and dead words have been excised. Two of the stories have never been published before.

But I am not publishing these stories now to clean out my desk. I am publishing this volume because it forms an exclamation mark to the period I wrote last year. In the manner of the crab, it can sometimes be good to go backwards. To a beginning. The time before 8 January 1990.

No picture will ever be complete. But I do think these pieces should be part of it.

The rest is, and remains, silence.

Henning Mankell

January 1999



In the beginning, everything was just a fog.

Or perhaps it was like a thick-flowing sea where all was white and silent. The landscape of death. It was also the first thought that came to Kurt Wallander as he slowly began rising back to the surface. That he was already dead. He had reached twenty-one years of age, no more. A young policeman, barely an adult. And then a stranger had rushed up to him with a knife and he had not had time to throw himself out of harm's way.

Afterwards there was only the white fog. And the silence.

Slowly he awakened, slowly he returned to life. The images that whirled around inside his head were unclear. He tried to catch them in flight, as one catches butterflies. But the impressions slipped away and only with the greatest of effort could he reconstruct what had really happened…

Wallander was off duty. It was 3 June 1969, and he had just walked Mona down to one of the Denmark ferries, not one of the new ones, the hydrofoils, but one of the old faithfuls, where you still had time for a square meal during the passage to Copenhagen. She was going to meet up with a friend, they were going maybe to the Tivoli, and, more likely, the clothes shops. Wallander had wanted to come along since he was off work, but she had said no. The trip was just for her and her friend. No men allowed.

Now he watched the boat chug out of the harbour. Mona would be back in the evening and he had promised to be there to greet her. If the weather was still as fine as it was now, they would take a walk. And then return to his apartment in Rosengard.

Wallander noticed he was becoming excited at the very thought. He straightened his trousers and then crossed the street and walked into the station. There he bought a packet of cigarettes, John Silver as always, and lit one before he even left the building.

Wallander had no plans for the day. It was a Tuesday and he was free. He had been putting in a lot of overtime, not least because of the frequent, large-scale Vietnam demonstrations both in Lund and Malmo. In Malmo there had been a clash with the police. Wallander had found the whole situation distasteful. He was not sure what he thought of the protestors' demands that the United States get out of Vietnam. He had tried to talk to Mona about it the day before but she had not had any opinion other than that 'the protestors are troublemakers'. When

Вы читаете The Pyramid
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату