Roderick Hart's Reviews > The Troubled Man

The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell
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Dec 10, 2011

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** spoiler alert ** This is the last novel in the Wallander Series and I find it impossible to review it without spoilers. As usual in this series there are pieces of a jigsaw waiting for Wallander to fit together. Unusually, though, several are left out of the completed picture. Small stones are mentioned, one of which appears to travel from Sweden to Germany. What does this signify? I have no idea. A woman, Louise, is murdered, this being the only murder in the book. By whom? I have no idea. Why? There is a suggestion, but no evidence to back it up. And why were her shoes left lying beside her body? Having read the book I am none the wiser.

Louise is the wife of an officer in the Swedish navy. For the first part of the book it appears she has been spying for the Soviet Union, then Russia. Given she is a school-teacher this seems unlikely. To make it more plausible, Louise visits East Germany from time to time in connection with sport.

Wallander eventually comes to the view that Louise was not the spy, her husband was. Secondly, he concludes that her husband was spying for the Unites States, not the Soviet Union. This is possible since Sweden was neutral and not part of NATO.

Some of this is likely. A spy needs information. Louise had none but her husband had. It is also quite likely that the US was spying in Sweden, as everywhere else. On the other hand, and especially in the Soviet era, the USSR was perceived to be the danger and I am sure many Swedes would have been happy to cooperate with the US.

So why was Louise murdered? The suggestion is that she might have discovered what her husband was up to and had to be silenced. Unfortunately for this theory, Wallander has gone out of his way to visit a retired STASI officer and leaves persuaded that the method used to murder her was developed in East Germany. So the communists murdered Louise to prevent her disclosing the fact that her husband spied for the US? I don’t think so.

How good is this book? In life, not all loose ends can be tied up, but there are too many here.
In order to explain what has happened, Wallander is reduced to speculation on a large scale since he lacks the necessary evidence. In fact, he leaves a written account of his thinking in the hands of the police officer responsible for investigating the death of Louise. So confident is he of his conclusions that he doesn’t sign it. One loose end is tied up, but it has nothing to do with the case. He is visited by his ex-lover Baiba, who is dying. (This mirrors a similar occurrence in Mankell’s novel, Italian Shoes).

The other aspect of the book worth noting is that Wallander is now in decline. He has been so for some years, of course, most notably suffering from diabetes. But now his mind is going as well and Mankell deals with the onset of dementia here. It is hard to know how well, but I find it both scary and convincing.

Wallander often reflects on the infirmity of old age, and he does come across as seriously out of condition. Being both older than the detective and more active, I find this odd. He seems to me old before his time. Mankell must have been 63 or 64 when writing this book so I hope he isn’t writing from experience.

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05/06/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Eloise Bittersweet. The end.

Roderick Hart I thought this was well handled in the Swedish TV series with Krister Henrikson.

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