Inner turbulence

‘The Troubled Man’, Henning Mankell’s final Kurt Wallander mystery novel, is more gritty procedural than spy thriller

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.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.

More on this topic

Suggestions below based on Fiction

The damned united

‘Lost Memory of Skin’, a tale about sex offenders exiled to a wasteland ghetto, is a modern parable that is surprisingly funny, writes Adrian Turpin

Small wonders

Grace McCleen’s ‘The Land of Decoration’, a unique story about a young girl’s miniature world, is a big-hearted novel

Backyard secret

A teenager and her little sister cover up the death of their parents in this tale that cuts black comedy with a big dollop of sentiment

Seaborne hell

Weston Ochse’s ‘Blood Ocean’ from The Afterblight Chronicles is a vivid tale of revenge set in a degenerate floating city in a near-future

Desert walkers

Mercenaries looking for Saddam’s gold find instead a bioweapon that turns healthy humans into undead monsters in Adam Baker’s ‘Juggernaut’