So, here goes some book reviews for Cannonball Read 4. It is too late to sign up but you can learn all about some books there.
My friend recommended this novel to me as a good winter break read. She just told me that it was Swedish and had spy thriller elements. She didn’t tell me that it is the final book in a series of crime fiction starring our favorite Swedish police officer, Kurt Wallander. Needless to say I had no idea it was the final one. I was a bit depressed when I halfway through I finally read the liner notes and realized I had started at the end. But no matter. In the book’s favor I enjoyed it even if it is the last of its kind.
When it opens up Wallander’s daughter decides to have a child with a man whose father was a high ranking officer in the Swedish navy. This naval officer, von Enke, indicates to Wallander that he has a story to tell involving high intrigue on the high seas, but soon after he goes missing and Wallander never gets the chance to find out what in the world the guy was talking about. Wallander takes up the mystery at his daughter’s request and soon after von Enke’s wife also goes missing.
Obviously I can’t compare this book to the other novels in the series. On its own, it is well worth the read. Generally I’m not a fan of crime fiction, but this book brings in the spy thriller elements that make it more than your run of the mill crime work. It also echos the finer qualities of John le Carre without his tendency toward heavy-handed politics. Actually, Wallander is about as apolitical as you can get, which makes the story even more interesting. He spends his time trying to understand the situation before him, not preaching about it (I’m thinking Constant Gardener le Carre here).
The only criticism I would throw out there is that Mankell tends to give information for which I don’t see a purpose, like the couple of times when mid-story Wallander decides to clean out his fridge. Maybe it is his attempt to create reality? I understand that, but it seemed jarring to me at times.
I don’t want to give away how Mankell closes the book on Wallander, but I have to give props to his approach. It felt absolutely believable. Read it and you will see what I mean.