Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell

Kurt Wallander observes his sixtieth birthday at the beginning of The Troubled Man, the latest and probably the last of a series of highly acclaimed mysteries by Henning Mankell about the Swedish policeman. It is not a celebration, for the years have been hard on Wallander. His bad eating habits have worsened his diabetes and now his memory seems to be failing. He is living alone, no longer wanting his ex-wife Mona back, and very aware of his being alone each morning when he wakes. Not everything is bad. He has moved out to the country where he has a view of the Baltic Sea from his porch, and he has acquired a dog, only the second he has ever had. Best of all, his daughter Linda is living nearby and checking nearly daily on his moods and welfare.

Linda is pregnant and invites her father to meet her partner and his family. Wallander has plenty of time to go to Stockholm for a seventy-fifth birthday party for Linda's prospective father-in-law, Hakan Von Enke, a retired Swedish naval officer and expert on submarine warfare, because he has been temporarily suspended for losing his service revolver. At the well-attended party, where Wallander feels terribly out of place, he observes that Von Enke is agitated, possibly scared. Readers soon learn why.

The Troubled Man is like many of the Wallander books in that its story revolves around a Swedish mystery with international factors. To this title, Mankell adds the issues of aging, seeing the deaths of contemporaries, and wanting a better life for progeny. This skillful and tender farewell to a character is not in any way predictable. Mankell resists formulaic endings. Wallander fans and new readers will enjoy this great book.

Mankell, Henning. The Troubled Man. Knopf, 2011. ISBN 9780307593498


Marit said...

Great book, absolutely. And I love your review for not going into details - there are just too many. Still a new reader get an idea of the book.
I can't recommend it enough.

ricklibrarian said...

I did not want to spoil the surprises. Glad you liked the review.