Archive for May 5, 2011

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The Troubled Man is the tenth and last book in the Kurt Wallander series by Swedish author, and political activist Henning Mankell.

I have read five other books from this series; Faceless Killers, The Fifth Woman, Sidetracked, and One Step Behind, all a few years ago before I started Crime Scraps.

Kurt Wallander has moved from his apartment in Ystad to a house in the country near where his father used to live. He has got himself a dog, Jussi, and now aged 60 his career as police officer seems to be winding down. He is given only fairly routine cases while seemingly only remaining in contact with his old colleague Martinsson.
Then his daughter Linda, also a police officer, announces she is pregnant with his first grandchild. She is engaged to financier Hans von Enke, whose father Hakan von Enke, is a retired former high ranking officer in the Swedish submarine service.

‘Hans said his parents had a philosophy about money,’ Linda had explained.
‘” You shouldn’t talk about money, it should be simply there.”‘
‘If only,’ Wallander had said. ‘That sounds like something well-heeled upper-class folk would say.’

Wallander, Hakan and Louise von Enke all delight in the birth of a granddaughter named Klara. But at his 75th birthday party Hakan von Enke begins to confide in Wallander about an incident during the Cold War, when the navy supposedly had a Soviet submarine trapped in Swedish territorial waters, and orders from above allowed it to escape.
Shortly after the party Hakan von Enke goes missing and Wallander takes some holiday to conduct an unofficial investigation that will uncover von Enke family secrets, and the confusion at the heart of Sweden’s neutrality. Wallander’s bleak personal odyssey is brought into focus with appearances by his drunken ex-wife Mona, and Baiba Liepa, the Latvian woman, who he regards as his one true love. [From The Dogs of Riga]
The feisty Linda, and her lively baby daughter Klara, are the only bright positives in this story as Wallander interviews one elderly person after the other; people whose best years are long behind them. Wallander troubled by repeated episodes of memory loss appears much older than his 60 years, and this gives the distinct impression that Mankell is bored with his character.

Is The Troubled Man too depressing for an old man to read?
Answer-definitely yes.
If The Troubled Man was simply the story of a man thinking back over his life with a plethora of regrets about the past it might be regarded as a fine but very bleak novel. But as a crime story the plot is rather thin and the solution is………….
Not a surprise considering the well known longstanding political affiliations of the author.
This a dark story of memory loss, depression, diabetes, cancer, drunkenness, lost past loves, and death. Without Linda or Klara what a total misery it would be.
I used to like the slow methodical build up in the Wallander books, but this one is almost catatonic and far too miserable for me to have enjoyed reading. It made even Leif G.W.Persson’s Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End seem fast paced and lively.
That said, The Troubled Man could well be shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, and that is the reason I persevered to the depressing finale.

She also made sure he bought a new dark suit, accompanied him to the tailor’s in Malmo, and when he expressed his astonishment at the price she explained that it was a high-quality suit that would last him the rest of his life.

‘You’ll be attending fewer weddings,’ Linda said. ‘ But at your age, the number of funerals increases.’

A negative view of The Troubled Man in The Guardian I have tried to be a bit fairer than this article in my comments.