Henning Mankell is well known for his Wallander mystery series that was adapted into the PBS Masterpiece Theater Mystery! series for television. He has now written a new novel that is most definitely not a mystery, although mysterious things seem to occur.
The Shadow Girls is a story of three young women from other countries who all end up in Sweden. They are desperate to tell their stories, and also to become legal citizens, although two of them are so far under the radar that no one in authority knows who they are. We have Leyla from Iran, Tanya from Russia, and Tea-Bag from Nigeria, all undocumented immigrants who become the unlikely pupils of Jesper Humlin, a mildly famous poet. Humlin becomes enthralled with these three young women and the stories of how they made their way to Sweden and how they are forced to live. Through it all, he is dealing with failing book sales, an exasperated girl friend, a boy wonder stockbroker who has squandered all his money, and a very demanding elderly mother. This is a truly engrossing novel, full of darkly absurd humor, that depicts the plight of the undocumented who make their way to Sweden, and the terrible events that can force people to leave their homes and try to find a better life.