Book Review – The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander Mysteries) by Henning Mankell
The first new Wallander novel for a decade, and the final installment in the bestselling series from the godfather of Swedish crime.
On a winter day in 2008, Håkan von Enke, a retired high-ranking naval officer, vanishes during his daily walk in a forest near Stockholm. The investigation into his disappearance falls under the jurisdiction of the Stockholm police. It has nothing to do with Wallander—officially. But von Enke is his daughter’s future father-in-law. And so, with his inimitable disregard for normal procedure, Wallander is soon interfering in matters that are not his responsibility, making promises he won’t keep, telling lies when it suits him—and getting results. But the results hint at elaborate Cold War espionage activities that seem inextricably confounding, even to Wallander, who, in any case, is troubled in more personal ways as well. Negligent of his health, he’s become convinced that, having turned sixty, he is on the threshold of senility. Desperate to live up to the hope that a new granddaughter represents, he is continually haunted by his past. And looking toward the future with profound uncertainty, he will have no choice but to come face-to-face with his most intractable adversary: himself.
About the Author
Internationally bestselling novelist and playwright HENNING MANKELL has received the German Tolerance Prize and the U.K.’s Golden Dagger Award and has been nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize three times. His Kurt Wallander mysteries have been published in thirty-three countries and consistently top the bestseller lists in Europe.
* Note, the book cover I embedded here is from the UK edition – I just like it better than the US cover
Dang, there’s a part of me that really wishes I didn’t read The Troubled Man – the final installment in Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander Mystery series. Reading this beook just made me feel so depressed afterwards – especially with the way things ended for Kurt [sob]! I won’t spoil details, but man, that was cruel… Yeah, I’ve definitely gone a long way from initially disliking Kurt immensely in the first book to now being brokenhearted by his ultimate fate in this final book.
So, obviously The Troubled Man really packed an emotional wallop for me (see emoticon above)… but I have to admit that the mystery per se wasn’t as good as in Henning Mankell’s previous Kurt installments. Maybe it’s because I just don’t care much for Cold War espionage mysteries, but I found this case involving the disappearance of an old man, sleeper spies, and mysterious foreign submarines back in the 1980s just – well – boring. And I didn’t even have the emotional satisfaction of the case being wrapped up definitively since nobody even knew that Kurt had solved the mystery in the end.
I wanted Kurt to have an exciting and meaty mystery for a send-off, but I didn’t get that here.
Warning for fans, the whole atmosphere in this book is really extra mournful and depressing. Mankell made me feel like being aged 60 (Kurt’s age here) is more like 80 what with the preoccupation with death, regrets and goodbyes that happen throughout the book (Example, people from Kurt’s past resurface only to say goodbye like a dying Baiba, an alcoholic Mona, etc.) Didn’t Mankell get the memo that 60 is the new 40 nowadays? (Exhibit 1: Liam Neeson)
The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander Mysteries) by Henning Mankell is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition, Hardcover edition, Paperback edition and Audible Audio Edition. * Also available in Amazon UK