08 September 2009

Recent reading: Kennedy's brain

Kennedy's Brain Kennedy's Brain by Henning Mankell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Henning Mankell is perhaps best known for his detective stories set in the south of Sweden, featuring detective Karl Wallander. This is also a detective novel of sorts, but the protagonist is not a professional detective, but a middle-aged archaeologist, Louise Cantor, whose expertise has hitherto been confined to solving riddles of the distant past.

I found the story very reminiscent of The Constant Gardener by John le Carre, in that it deals with murders linked to multinational pharmaceutical companies, and the action moves from Greece, to Sweden, to Spain to Australia to Mocambique and back again. Australia is the only country visited only once.

Mankell does a very good job of building up a sense of mystery, followed by a sense of menace, in the early chapters, but unfortunately the story tends to fall apart towards the end, on the second visit to Mocambique, which is why I give it only three stars, instead of four or five. I won't go into details, because I don't want to give away the plot to anyone who hasn't read it, and I do think it is worth reading, but I did find the last few chapters a little disappointing.

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