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THE TROUBLED MAN by Henning Mankell Kirkus Star


by Henning Mankell & translated by Laurie Thompson

Pub Date: March 29th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-59349-8
Publisher: Knopf

Swedish detective Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander (The Pyramid, 2008, etc.) makes a riveting 10th appearance in the strange case of the spy who was and wasn’t.

Wallander is 60 now. He’s a diabetic, conceivably bipolar, and possibly on the cusp of Alzheimer’s—though he’s scared stiff to find out for sure. He’s also terrified of dying and obsesses about it in a way that’s both debilitating and downright self-abusive. And yet the core of him remains indestructibly, unalterably Wallander: brilliant, honorable, quirky and, above all, dogged. His daughter Linda, a policewoman now, is in a long-term relationship with a young financier, the son of a retired naval officer, whose sudden disappearance has caused official as well as familial consternation. No one can understand it. Von Enke was highly placed and deeply respected in Swedish military circles. Investigation, at first intense, proves unproductive and after awhile slides inexorably toward cold case status. But not with Wallander. In characteristic fashion, he continues to forage, unearthing a morsel here, a tidbit there, until he fashions some sort of bare-bones meal to chew on. Intermittently—attacked by the bleakness of what he construes as a future in which all that’s left to experience is growing older—he’s overwhelmed: “He would lie there in the dark and become panic-stricken.” Being Wallander, however, he fights through to equilibrium. Could it be true, he begins asking himself, that national-security issues are involved? Could what happened to von Enke really be linked somehow to the bad old days of the Cold War? It takes a long time for Wallander to fully digest the information he’s painstakingly gathered—and for one troubled man to finally understand another.

Though shivering in the winter of his discontent, Wallander will grip the reader hard. Flawed and occasionally exasperating, he is that rare thing: a true original.