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March 2, 2012 10:12 pm
The Troubled Man, by Henning Mankell, translated by Laurie Thompson, Vintage, £6.99, 503 pages
Haken von Enke, a senior naval commander during the cold war, relates his 1980s stand-off with an unknown submarine to detective Kurt Wallander in Stockholm in 2008. Months later, von Enke disappears and the body of his East German wife is found in woods with classified microfilm on her.
Wallander’s investigation reveals suspicions of high-level treachery but it’s his own steady decline that presents the titular troubled man. Overweight, stressed, possibly alcoholic, and suffering increasingly frequent moments of complete mental blankness, Wallander’s emotional health dwindles further when he hears of the death of his former lover.
The Troubled Man is more gritty procedural than spy thriller. It’s dominated by Wallander’s inner turbulence, the mature if uncomfortable relationship with his daughter, and a powerful preoccupation with death, which gives a mournful cast to this final instalment of the hugely absorbing Wallander case file.
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