While not on official duty Detective Erlendur draws an unexpected case to himself when he returns to his rural Icelandic home in search of the meaningWhile not on official duty Detective Erlendur draws an unexpected case to himself when he returns to his rural Icelandic home in search of the meaningfulness and effect of losing his younger brother during a blizzard. He has been plagued with thoughts of missing persons and hypothermia throughout his career and only now has full heartedly focussed on resolving his personal demons. Survivor guilt has shaped his identity since he was a young boy.
It is not however through the discovery of the circumstances surrounding his brother's demise but rather the parallel loss of those "missing" in the lives of the community's oldsters that wakens Erlendur's deeper more spiritual self. Witnessing the bitterness and willful ignorance to confront the past in others allows him to see his own sense of guilt and need for restoration.
As with all Indridason's writings this novel is identity-shaped and character driven to the extend that the exact resolution of the mystery is hardly the most important aspect of the tale. Questions of the civic Law come up that suggest that there is more to justice than merely retribution and that restoration can take some rather labyrinthian and surprising pathways. The cost of repression and the effect of aging with a unresolved secret make this book an excellent morality tale. ...more
I just completed all of Henning Mankell's Wallander novel and it is by far my favorite scando-mysteries series. The last in the series The Troubled MaI just completed all of Henning Mankell's Wallander novel and it is by far my favorite scando-mysteries series. The last in the series The Troubled Man refers to both the subject of inquiry as well as Kurt Wallander himself. Both plots are jam packed with great character development as well as plot twists but I was most moved by the older Wallander, as he learns the lessons of aging and contemplates his diminished health.
He is humbled as he reviews his life but he displays genuine vulnerability and courage in the way that he evaluates himself and takes responsibility for his flaws. Ultimately, as disappointing as some of his life has been, he stands tall in gratitude for the less than perfect but meaningful existence and helpful vocation as a detective he has lived.
As many have mentioned in this thread do not start with The Trouble Man but read at least a few prior volumes so you can really appreciate Kurt's development and his ultimate encouragement to his less than perfect readers. ...more
The only reason I gave this book a three star is because I made the mistake of listening to it on audiobooks rather than just reading it. The vocal inThe only reason I gave this book a three star is because I made the mistake of listening to it on audiobooks rather than just reading it. The vocal interpreter in my opinion was so distracting I could barely keep the plot in my mind. His attempts at Swedish accent were exaggerated and sometimes pathetically funny. Henning Mankell deserves a much better interpretation - the Troubled Man vocalization seems far better from what I have heard.
That said the same excellent characterization of Wallander and the tensions in his personal life blend seamlessly in with the plot and make it, in spite of my complaint above, an excellent story. Mankell's Wallander mysteries are undoubtably my favourite Swedish Crime stories. One more to read... The Troubled Man. ...more
Henning Mankell is equally proficient writing literary fiction as he is at mysteries. His social conscience is revealed in his recent novel Daniel aboHenning Mankell is equally proficient writing literary fiction as he is at mysteries. His social conscience is revealed in his recent novel Daniel about a orphaned African boy who is impulsively transplanted from his Kalahari setting of sand and sun to the cold of Sweden by a man seeking his own identity by finding a unknown species of insect and giving it his name. Sadly the man not only discovers an insect but pins the fortunes of Daniel on the cork board of his own self discovery and importance. The results are tragic but they illuminate what happens when even our well meaning actions to liberate or civilize others end destructively. Bengler the surrogate father of Daniel has little self understanding and like his paternalistic culture distorts those it attempts to save. Daniel's closest relationship is to another cultural marginal Saan a young girl who is mentally disabled. Even their co-aliened friendship can not sustain the insanity of being displaced and unhomed. The lesson I learned through the book is that until we can genuinely identify and understand others even our best efforts can mar them. Do no harm seems the best bet, or better yet, leave well enough alone until you can love with wisdom. This novel seems to fit well with the genre of colonial critique.
Broken is Fossum's standalone novel it is a totally authentic exposition of a writer's intimate relationship and responsibility toward their characterBroken is Fossum's standalone novel it is a totally authentic exposition of a writer's intimate relationship and responsibility toward their characters. A negligible line is drawn between the worlds of the writer and her character Alvar Eide, they speak with one another directly, every other chapter The reader is treated to a much more literary version of this theme as seen in Stranger Than Fiction, an excellent recent movie starring Will Farrell. The movie is comedic and also displays the struggle between the truths of reality and those of the imagination. Fossum has done something even more significant, she has shown the interplay of character and writer in a far more realistic, meaningful and advantageous mode. Fiction is sometimes more truthful than reality and reality is more fictional than the imagination.
Alvar interrupts the writer's project by skipping the cue of other characters who are all vying for attention. Alvar a rather limp individual is nevertheless persistent and demanding toward the writer. In his fictional world he is an art salesman, a nice person, and a cypher living alone in order to avoid the demands of social life. Throughout the novel he is driven to acknowledge the culpability being passive in a variety of ways. A boring character is one of the hardest to write and yet to sustain the reader's attention; Alvar is indeed boring but he has hooked me from the get go. The novel has reminded me to take imagination seriously it fiction can considerably enrich our quotidian lives. Remember, if you are familiar with Karin Fossum, keep Sjer and the mysteries out of your mind while reading Broken it is definitely a novel and a good one at that. ...more
I am a rather slow reader, rarely is a book a "page turner" for me. An exception to this was Kjell Eriksson's The Cruel Stars of the Night. I read theI am a rather slow reader, rarely is a book a "page turner" for me. An exception to this was Kjell Eriksson's The Cruel Stars of the Night. I read the book at record speed in two days! Why?
First of all I think that the translation must be excellent since the words flow smoothly without the jarring transitions that sometimes characterize translated works. It was poetic mystery writing.
Another reason for my enthusiastic reading was that the book "hooked" me. Not so much because of the typical whodunnit outcome but rather because of the in-depth character depiction and meaningful description. The characters, often in the process of doing one thing, find their minds reminiscing on a biographical memory that enhanced the meaning of their current actions. This created fully rounded characters that the reader gets to know and care about.
Many readers were frustrated that the serial killer was not particularly difficult to identify. True, but the book was so enjoyable that the guessing game was surpassed by its' providing an explanation of the human character and circumstances that co-wrote these tragedies; egotism, disloyalty, and family dysfunction. ...more
The Man from Beijing reminded me of that phrase about the connection between a butterfiy flapping its wings in one place on our globe and a hurricaneThe Man from Beijing reminded me of that phrase about the connection between a butterfiy flapping its wings in one place on our globe and a hurricane happening at the same time in another location; supposedly somehow in the interconnected web of reality, they are deeply linked. The novel The Man From Beijing has many events that while seemingly disconnected find their way back to one other through Mankell's narration. A wolf wandering the artic wastes connects with a high roller sociopath in China; a murder of a family in Nevada and a slaughter of a entire village in Sweden; the fortunes of a 19th century Chinese peasant working on a railway and a 21st Century Swedish woman judge who discovers her ancestory and her deeper self; the social-political connections between an African nation who modern day Chinese entrepeneurs treat it as a colony; these and many more are the tendacious links to be found in the story.
Like some critics have suggested, the story is so wide ranging that it is hard to form an intimate connection for the characters and slightly difficult to connect the events. I would however say it is worth our while because the world has become a global village and we are as they say connected to everyone everywhere. Henning's social philosophy and analysis is beneath every page and prophetically predicts that the way that the most powerful treat the least powerful will have reprecussions on us all.
It is not Mankell's best but, even so, worth our while reading. I think I am glad to have found an author who is exciting and vibrant even when not writing in his absolutely best form. As for stand alones by Mankell I prefer Italian Shoes. ...more
Not a page turner. Not a mystery, at least, not a typical Mankell mystery. Italian Shoes is rather like an exercise in learning how to read slowly andNot a page turner. Not a mystery, at least, not a typical Mankell mystery. Italian Shoes is rather like an exercise in learning how to read slowly and sumptuously. Sixty-six year old Frederick Welin for the last twelve years has lived reclusively on an island, formerly owned by his grandparents, in an archipelago off the coast of Sweden. He was an educated man, a medical man. who made a mistake which drove him Grendel-like to the edge of civilization. As a result, he had all the time in the world to contemplate. We readers are summoned to his contemplation of the meaning of regret, the twists and turns of the aging process, the geniuses who live on the margins, and a heart thawing that comes through ruthless honesty.
Fredrick's lessons don't come cheaply; they arrive in the form of shocks, body blows to the soul, that rattle him out of his dreary no-life. Initially he is jolted by seeing the image of an old woman hobbling hunched on an aluminum walker making her way across the frozen ice. Recognizing her as his former lover that he had abandoned many years ago, he welcomes her onto the island; in that act, his compassion and need for recompense is stirred.
Harriet, Fred's old beau, kindled a process within him that moved from one unexpected secret to another, starting with the discovery that he had a daughter Laurie who shares his eccentricity and feistiness. Through her Fred is made aware that geniuses often live in out of the way places like forests, truck stops and islands.
A displaced Italian shoemaker is introduced to Fred. He makes shoes that fit more than just the soles of his clients feet, these shoes are soul-crafted in such a way as to allow them to live naturally. Fred first saw this when his daughter wearing a red pair of high heels effortlessly glided her way across the icy driveway. Laurie's gift to her lost father is a pair of shoes made lovingly by the Italian artisan living in the forest. It takes a year to craft these shoes but then Fred recreation over that year is as suitably fashioned as his shoe. Reviving hope, facing death and learning to love, he eventually learns to walk free at least for now.
There are passages in Italian Shoes that put a lump in my throat not only because Mankell touched my heart but because the artistry of his writers craft, like the shoemaker, is authentically soul-making.
Solid writing, in fact it might even be called a literary mystery on level with some of Stieg Larsson. One of my favourite parts of the book involvesSolid writing, in fact it might even be called a literary mystery on level with some of Stieg Larsson. One of my favourite parts of the book involves the description of how a cigarette butt travelled from sunny Mexico to the US and eventually to land in the inside pocket of a drunken cop in Norway. Beautiful writing but sometimes hard to follow the plot due either to translation or just complexity. Requires a sustained, concentrated read. Nesbo's writing style draws you toward a conclusion that his next paragraph will utterly alter. He does it with class so the reader is not merely tricked but delightfully surprised with Nesbo's literary curve balls. ...more