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The Troubled Man: A Kurt Wallander Mystery (10) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 29, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In Mankell's masterful 11th novel featuring Kurt Wallander (and likely the last in this internationally bestselling series, according to Sonny Mehta's note to the reader), the 60-year-old Swedish detective unofficially pursues a baffling case that's part mystery, part spy thriller. At the 75th birthday party for Håkan von Enke (the "troubled man" of the title), von Enke, a retired Swedish naval commander, tells Wallander about a 1980 incident involving an unidentified submarine that "invaded Swedish territorial waters." Von Enke was about to fire depth charges to bring the sub to the surface when higher-ups ordered him to abort. A few days after von Enke confides in the detective, he disappears; shortly after, his wife goes missing as well. As Wallander's quest for the truth leads him back to the era of cold war espionage, Mankell (Firewall) deftly interweaves the problems of Swedish society with the personal challenges of one man trying to understand what happened and why. 150,000 first printing; 5-city author tour. (Mar.)
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*Starred Review* Readers whose knowledge of Scandinavian crime fiction goes beyond Stieg Larsson know that it was Henning Mankell who jump-started what has developed into a 20-year golden age. Mankell’s latest novel, the final volume in his Kurt Wallander series, represents a landmark moment in the genre comparable to the swan songs of Ian Rankin’s John Rebus (Exit Music, 2008) and John Harvey’s Charlie Resnick (Cold in Hand, 2008). We pick up Wallander’s story with the aging inspector feeling his 60-plus years and suffering from memory problems that lead to his suspension from the Ystad police force. With time on his hands, Wallander throws himself into solving the disappearance of his daughter’s father-in-law, a former Swedish submarine commander obsessed with an incident from the 1980s involving the detection of Soviet submarines in Swedish waters. Wallander’s digging into the commander’s life leads toward what appears to be a cold war scandal that could rock the current government. As Wallander strives to determine if the commander’s public persona bears any relation to his private self, he launches another, more poignant investigation into his own past. Has he always been the man he feels he has become—“filled with self-pity, a thoroughly pathetic figure”—or does his past tell a different story? This is a deeply melancholy novel, at times painful to read, but Mankell, sweeping gracefully between reflections on international politics and meditations on the inevitable arc of human life, never lets his story become engulfed by darkness. Always a reticent man, Wallander shows an intensity of emotion here, a last gasp of felt life, that is both moving and oddly inspiring. An unforgettable series finale. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The swan song of a much-loved series is always a big event, and thanks to the PBS series based on the Wallander novels, this one has some extra frisson. Expect off-the-book-page coverage on NPR and major print outlets as well as a widespread online advertising campaign. --Bill Ott
Read an excerpt from The Troubled Man. [PDF]
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Top Customer Reviews
Like so many others, I yearned for another Wallander story, and when it finally came, I could not wait to read it. However, when I closed the covers of what appears to be the last of the Wallanders, I was disappointed. In this book, Wallander is a tired, dispirited 60 year old man with serious health issues, who dreads a future of loneliness. He acts and thinks like a far older man. There was some meanspiritedness in the way that former important characters were dealt with, including some views about his own father's paintings. What glimmers of optimism and hope that can be gleaned, are found in his new grandchild. The plot was not very solid and there was a lot of traveling back and forth (there has been a lot of that in Mr. Mankell's recent novels). Just as you were getting into the rhythm of the story, he'd be off on another journey. I came to feel sorry for his dog, Jussi, always being left with the neighbors.
The story was touching and there was much of the fine writing that had propelled the series to international fame. Of course people age and life's disappointments accumulate and weigh a person down. One expects this. But the mood of the book was sad and almost unrelentingly hopeless. Did Mr. Mankell himself become tired of his hero? Did he resent the clamoring for yet another Wallander book and decide to punish his character and his readers all at the same time? I don't insist on a happy ending, but I can't help but think that the readers who came to love these stories and who liked and admired the character, deserved a better finale than this.
Kurt Wallander's daughter, Linda, has become pregnant and her significant other, Han's parents have invited him to a birthday party. Kurt and Han's father, Hakan von Enke, hit it off. Hakan is a former commander in the Swedish navy who specialized in both commanding and hunting down submarines. He goes on to tell Kurt a story of Russian submarines, and one that was found in suspicious circumstances. Later Hakan goes missing and then the real mystery develops. Wallander's investigation reveals deep family secrets and quite a bit about recent Swedish naval history. The mystery is fascinating, but the final few sentences left me quite upset, even though the signs were there all along. The book was so well done, but ultimately, saddened that there would be no more in this series and sad at the way it ended.
Wallander does not seem to be a particularly happy person, and working on his own, during his summer holiday, there is time for a review of his life. He thinks about his relationships with Linda, his ex-wife Mona and other people that meant something to him. There are also references to earlier cases and there is a sense of all loose ends having been tied up. Hanning Mankell is a superb writer of mystery. He gives us detail that is significant, and the story widens into one of surprises and reminiscence. Kurt Wallander is a man that I feel I know, and now it is difficult to let him go. Will Kurt's daughter, Linda get a chance to tell her tales?
Highly Recommended. prisrob 04-20-11
The Pyramid: The First Wallander Cases (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
A Bridge to the Stars
As I finished the book, I was also saddened by the end of the Wallander series, but I must wonder whether Mankell's descriptions of Kurt's mental demise might just be autobiographical rather than fictional.
It's a personal investigation for the detective, his daughter has a child with the son of parents around which a mystery swirls.