06 May 2012

The Troubled ManThe Troubled Man by Henning Mankell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've recently read two of Henning Mankell's books one after the other (bought on a book sale). The previous one, The man from Beijing was not one of the Detective Inspector Kurt Wallander series, and I did not enjoy it as much as this one, which does feature Wallander.

It seems to me that Mankell is, in a way, dominated by his own creation. When he tries to write books without Wallander, they seem to be patchy, with the plot not hanging together, and the characters become unconvincing.

In this book Wallander is involved in a case that affects his own family -- his daughter Linda's boyfriend's parents. The boyfriend's father, who lives in Stockholm, is a retired naval officer, who disappears, and, because of the family connection Wallander gets involved in the case.

Quite a large part of the book is devoted to Wallander's own reflections on the aging process, as he nears retirement himself. He reviews his life, wonders what happens to people he was at school with, wonders if he is becoming like his father and so on. I can understand that, since I am ten years older than Wallander is in the book, and I too wonder what happened to people I was at school or university with. I tend to use things like Facebook for that, but that doesn't seem to occur to Wallander. He has a computer, but doesn't seem to use it much.

The main story also recalls the past, with its roots in the Cold War. To say much more than that would reveal too much of the plot. If you like your whodunits to get on with the story and not have much introspective reflection, then perhaps you'd better wait for the Readers Digest condensed edition to come out. But I thought this was one of Mankell's better books.

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