three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
52-May-June-2011
user_rating: 
0

A Kurt Wallander Novel

A-The Troubled ManThis is Swedish author Henning Mankell's tenth book featuring detective Kurt Wallander, though he has also written other books and plays. Reviewed: The Man from Beijing (3.5 of 5 Stars May/June 2010)

The Story: Overweight, diabetic, and sometimes depressed, Kurt Wallander is nobody's idea of an action hero--unless you have been following this mystery series of Henning Mankell, as many devoted fans have been long before they ever heard of that other Swedish mystery series featuring the girl with the dragon tattoo. Now over 60 and semiretired, Wallander has found something like happiness following the birth of his first grandchild. But before long he is pulled into a new case involving the family of his daughter's husband and leftover secrets of Cold War-era subterfuge in studiously neutral Sweden. The book considers the ultimate fate not only of Soviet submarines but also of the aging Wallander; Mankell has said this will be the last book in the series.
Knopf. 384 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 9780307593498

Cleveland Plain Dealer 4 of 5 Stars
"The Troubled Man is the end. It's also arguably Mankell's best Wallander book--which makes the finale for his rule-breaking, overeating, over-drinking, depressed but ultimately good-hearted and righteous detective all the more poignant." Laura DeMarco

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Henning Mankell has spoken: Detective Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander has solved his last case. Making this news more bitter, the alcoholic, diabetic, antisocial and perpetually dour Swedish detective is at his gloomy best in The Troubled Man." Marilyn Stasio

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The 10th is the finale for Wallander as he struggles with a failing memory in his early 60s ... while investigating the disappearance of Haken von Enke, a retired Swedish naval officer and father of his daughter's partner. ... The somber, resigned tone of the book weighs down the investigatory side of an era when the Soviets and their Scandinavian neighbor were encountering Cold War friction, a bit of history unknown by many Americans." Bob Hoover

Guardian (UK) 2 of 5 Stars
"The earlier Wallander books may have been portentous and melodramatic but they were at least internally consistent. This one, billed as the final title in the series, gives no sign of an editor's hand. ... . But then neither clues nor characters play any role in the crime." Andrew Brown

Critical Summary

Not everyone loves Kurt Wallander. If they did, he couldn't be the dour, melancholy character that has attracted so many mystery fans. Although critics felt the book was a standout in the series, they also warned against it too. It's one of the best, they said, but readers won't truly appreciate it unless they have thoroughly come to know this curmudgeonly gumshoe. As the purported last in the series, The Troubled Man offers up some surprises about Wallander's life and aging process, but his evolution takes place over the ten books. Though a significant installment and fitting end to the series, critics recommend readers intrigued by the phenomenon start with the first in the series, Faceless Killers (1991).