For some reason, every time I hear Sweden mentioned I can't help but recall a series of ads that ran in the 1970s. I think they must have been put out by the Canadian government, but they claimed the average 60-year-old Swede was in as good as if not better shape than a 30-year-old Canadian. I guess the Health Ministry was going through one of its fitness crazes and wanted Canadians to exercise more. How much truth there was in the statement about the 60-year-old Swede, I still don't know to this day, but for the longest time he, ABBA, and hockey players was all Sweden meant to me. Now I can add something else to my wealth of knowledge about this northern Scandinavian country, they've produced at least one brilliant writer of mystery stories.
Starting Sunday September 9 at 9:00 PM and continuing through September 16 and 23, you can see proof of this on your local Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) (check local listings for dates and times of course). For those three weeks will see the airing of the latest adaptation of Henning Mankell's novels as part of the Mystery segment of Masterpiece. Wallander lll sees the return of the troubled Swedish police inspector Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) as he deal with three murder cases, "An Event in Autumn", "The Dogs of Riga" and "Before the Frost", which are not only brutal but wreck further turmoil on his already fragile emotions.
If you've read any of Mankell's books or seen either of the previous two series, you'll be familiar with Wallander and what he's witnessed in the past. However, even if you've never seen or read anything that's come before, it won't take you long to see the emotional damage he's suffered in the past. Even the hope generated by his starting a new relationship and moving into a house with his partner and her son isn't enough to prevent him from shutting himself down emotionally when partially decomposed body of a young woman is found on his new property. With one wreck of a marriage behind him, and his relationship with his adult daughter tenuous at best, Wallander had hoped for a new start. However, he feels it can't bode well for anything when it turns out the body was the victim of murder.
Things go from bad to worse when a colleague is brutally injured during the course of the investigation. Not only does he feel responsible for what happened to her, when another young women turns up dead, a friend of the first victim, he feels guilty because she wouldn't be dead if he had been able to catch the killer. Even successfully solving the case does nothing to salvage his new relationship. His partner can't understand why he takes everything so personally nor why he can't leave his work at work. He may hate what he sees and the job might cause irreparable damage to his psyche, but his emotional commitment to the job is what makes him such a good cop.