The Shadow Girls

by Henning Mankell (Harvill Secker) ISBN 9781846556722 R215, 00 

Mankell is well-known for his crime novels featuring Detective Kurt Wallender.  The Shadow Girls was first published as Tea-Bag in Swedish in 2001. It has just been released in English as The Shadow Girls. I was expecting a crime novel. I was expecting a good read. I was expecting a plot. I didn't get it. 

The Shadow Girls is a nothing kind of a book. Apart from the three refugees whose story is woven in short pieces through the novel, there are no likeable characters. Jesper Humlin, the protagonist, is an unsuccessful poet. He is afraid of his angry girlfriend, his bitter mother, and his strident doctor. He is whiny, evasive, and fearful in his interactions with his manipulative publisher and his competitive friends. 

His publisher wants him to write a crime novel. He encounters the refugees. Somehow this is supposed to fit together but it doesn't. The novel ends abruptly and I realised I had just wasted my precious time. 

Amanda Patterson

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