Almost 20 years since he first appeared in Henning Mankel's novel Faceless Killers, the sad Swedish detective Kurt Wallander has become a worldwide success story. Mankel's compelling books about the idealistic police inspector -- who is even more miserable that Morse -- have sold more than 30 million copies in 43 different languages and inspired more than 25 film adaptations. In Europe, readers took instantly to the troubled, lonely cop with his horrendous health problems and catastrophic home life. The nine Wallander novels became runaway bestsellers all over Europe, but in Britain and the United States success was slower to take off. But now, since Kenneth Branagh has taken on the central role in the acclaimed and award-winning BBC series, British and American fans have really taken Wallander to their hearts. The popularity of the character has turned the small Swedish town of Ystad into one of the country's top tourist attractions and many British and American visitors are joining the queue to visit murder scenes and immerse themselves in the bleak landscape made famous on screen. Yet Wallander is much more than just another TV crime series. Henning Mankel invented the caring policeman as a vehicle to write about the disturbing increase in violence and racism that was undermining the comfortable social democracy of Sweden. Those problems are as international as Wallander's appeal.

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