The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander Series #10)

The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander Series #10)

by Henning Mankell
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Overview

The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander Series #10) by Henning Mankell

The much-anticipated return of Henning Mankell’s brilliant, brooding detective, Kurt Wallander.

On a winter day in 2008, Håkan von Enke, a retired high-ranking naval officer, vanishes during his daily walk in a forest near Stockholm. The investigation into his disappearance falls under the jurisdiction of the Stockholm police. It has nothing to do with Wallander—officially. But von Enke is his daughter’s future father-in-law. And so, with his inimitable disregard for normal procedure, Wallander is soon interfering in matters that are not his responsibility, making promises he won’t keep, telling lies when it suits him—and getting results. But the results hint at elaborate Cold War espionage activities that seem inextricably confounding, even to Wallander, who, in any case, is troubled in more personal ways as well. Negligent of his health, he’s become convinced that, having turned sixty, he is on the threshold of senility. Desperate to live up to the hope that a new granddaughter represents, he is continually haunted by his past. And looking toward the future with profound uncertainty, he will have no choice but to come face-to-face with his most intractable adversary: himself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307477408
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/03/2012
Series: Kurt Wallander Series , #10
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 116,748
Product dimensions: 7.92(w) x 5.04(h) x 1.08(d)

About the Author

Henning Mankell’s novels have been translated into forty languages and have sold more than thirty million copies worldwide. He is the first winner of the Ripper Award (the new European prize for crime fiction) and has also received the Glass Key and Golden Dagger awards. His Kurt Wallander mysteries were adapted into a PBS television series starring Kenneth Branagh. Mankell divides his time between Sweden and Mozambique.

www.henningmankell.com

Hometown:

Mozambique, Africa

Date of Birth:

February 3, 1948

Place of Birth:

Stockholm, Sweden

Education:

Folkskolan Elementary Shool, Sveg; Högre Allmäna Läroverket, Borås

Read an Excerpt

1

The year Kurt Wallander celebrated his fifty-fifth birthday, he fulfilled a long-held dream. Ever since his divorce from Mona fifteen years earlier, he had intended to leave his apartment in Mariagatan, where so many unpleasant memories were etched into the walls, and move out to the country. Every time he came home in the evening after a stressful and depressing workday, he was reminded that once upon a time he had lived there with a family. Now the furniture stared at him as if accusing him of desertion.

He could never reconcile himself to living there until he became so old that he might not be able to look after himself anymore. Although he had not yet reached the age of sixty, he reminded himself over and over again of his father's lonely old age, and he knew he had no desire to follow in his footsteps. He needed only to look into the bathroom mirror in the morning when he was shaving to see that he was growing more and more like his father. When he was young, his face had resembled his mother's. But now it seemed as if his father was taking him over-like a runner who has been lagging a long way behind but is slowly catching up the closer he gets to the invisible finish line.

Wallander's worldview was fairly simple. He did not want to become a bitter hermit growing old in isolation, being visited only by his daughter and perhaps now and then by a former colleague who had suddenly remembered that Wallander was still alive. He had no religious hopes of there being something in store for him on the other side of the black River Styx. There would be nothing but the same darkness that he had once emerged from. Until his fiftieth birthday, he had harbored a vague fear of death, something that had become his own personal mantra-that he would be dead for such a long time. He had seen far too many dead bodies in his life. There was nothing in their expressionless faces to suggest that their souls had been absorbed into some kind of heaven. Like so many other police officers, he had experienced every possible variation of death. Just after his fiftieth birthday had been celebrated with a party and cake at the police station, marked by a speech full of empty phrases by the former chief of police, Liza Holgersson, he had bought a new notebook and tried to record his memories of all the dead people he had come across. It had been a macabre exercise and he had no idea why he had been tempted to pursue it. When he got as far as the tenth suicide, a man in his forties, a drug addict with more or less every problem it was possible to imagine, he gave up. The man had hanged himself in the attic of the condemned apartment building where he lived, hanging in such a way that he was guaranteed to break his neck and hence avoid being slowly choked to death. His name was Welin. The pathologist had told Wallander that the man had been successful-he had proved to be a skillful executioner. At that point Wallander had abandoned his suicide cases and instead stupidly devoted several hours to an attempt to recall the young people or children he had found dead. But he soon gave that up as well. It was too repugnant. Then he felt ashamed of what he had been trying to do and burned the notebook, as if his efforts were both perverted and illegal. In fact, he was basically a cheerful person-it was just that he had allowed another side of his personality to take over.

Death had been his constant companion. He had killed people in the line of duty-but after the obligatory investigation he had never been accused of unnecessary violence.

Having killed two people was the cross he had to bear. If he rarely laughed, it was because of what he had been forced to endure.

But one day he made a critical decision. He had been out near Löderup, not far from the house where his father used to live, to talk to a farmer who had been the target of a very nasty robbery. On the way back to Ystad he noticed a real estate agent's sign picturing a little dirt road where there was a house for sale. He reacted automatically, stopped the car, turned around, and found his way to the address. Even before he got out of the car it was obvious to him that the property was in need of repair. It had originally been a U-shaped building, the bottom half clad in wood. But now one of the wings was missing-perhaps it had burned down. He walked around the house. It was a day in early fall. He could still remember seeing a skein of geese migrating south, flying directly above his head. He peered in through the windows and soon established that only the roof badly needed to be fixed. The view was enchanting; he could just make out the sea in the far distance, and possibly even one of the ferries on the way to Ystad from Poland. That afternoon in September 2003 marked the beginning of a love story with this remote house.

He drove straight to the real estate agent's office in the center of Ystad. The asking price was low enough that he would be able to manage the mortgage payments. The very next day he returned to negotiate with the agent, a young man who spoke at breakneck speed and gave the impression of living in a parallel universe. The previous owners were a young couple who had moved to Skåne from Stockholm but almost immediately, before they even had time to buy furniture, decided to split up. Yet there was nothing hidden in the walls of the empty house that scared him. And the most important thing was crystal clear: he would be able to move in without delay. The roof would last for another year or two; all he needed to do was to redecorate some of the rooms, perhaps install a new bath and maybe acquire a new stove. But the boiler was less than fifteen years old, and all the plumbing and electrical fittings no older.

Before leaving, Wallander asked if there were any other potential buyers. There was one, said the agent, looking distinctly worried, as if he really wanted Wallander to get the house but at the same time implying that he had better make his mind up fast. But Wallander had no intention of rushing in blindly. He spoke to one of his colleagues whose brother was a home inspector and managed to arrange for the expert to inspect the house the very next day. He found nothing wrong apart from what Wallander had already noticed. That same day Wallander spoke to his bank manager and was informed that he could rely on a mortgage big enough to buy the house. During all his years in Ystad, Wallander had saved up a lot of money without ever thinking much about it. Enough for the down payment.

That evening he sat at his kitchen table and made detailed financial calculations. He found the occasion solemn and significant. By midnight he had made up his mind: he would buy the house, which had the dramatic-sounding name of Black Heights. Despite the late hour, he called his daughter, Linda, who lived in a new development just off the main road to Malmö. She was still awake.

"You must come over," said Wallander excitedly. "I've got news for you."

"What? In the middle of the night?"

"I know it's your day off tomorrow."

It had been a complete surprise to him a few years earlier when, during a walk along the beach at Mossby Strand, Linda told him she had decided to follow in his footsteps and join the police force. It cheered him up instantly. In a way it was as if she was giving new meaning to all the years he had been a police officer. When she finished her training, she was assigned to the Ystad force. The first few months, she lived with him in the apartment in Mariagatan. It was not an ideal arrangement; he was set in his ways, and he also found it hard to accept that she was grown up now. But their relationship was saved when she managed to find an apartment of her own.

When she arrived in the early hours, he told her what he was planning to do. The next day she accompanied him to the house and said immediately that it was perfect. No other house would do, only this one at the end of a dirt road at the top of a gentle slope down to the sea.

"Granddad will haunt you," she said. "But you don't need to be afraid. He'll be a sort of guardian angel."

It was a significant and happy moment in Wallander's life when he signed the contract of sale and suddenly found himself standing there with a bunch of keys in his hand. He moved in on November first, having redecorated two rooms but having refrained from buying a new stove. He left Mariagatan without the slightest doubt that he was doing the right thing. A southeasterly gale was blowing the day he moved in.

That first evening, with the storm raging, he lost electricity. Wallander sat in his new home in pitch darkness. There was groaning and creaking coming from the rafters, and he discovered a leak in the ceiling. But he had no regrets. This was where he was going to live.

There was a dog kennel outside the house. Ever since he was a little boy Wallander had dreamed of having a dog. By the time he was thirteen he had given up hope, but out of the blue he got one as a present from his parents. He loved that dog more than anything else in the world. Looking back, it felt like the dog, Saga, had taught him what love could be. When she was three years old, she was run over by a truck. The shock and sorrow were worse than anything he had experienced in his young life. More than forty years later, Wallander had no difficulty recalling all those chaotic emotions. Death strikes, he sometimes thought. It has a powerful and unforgiving fist.

Two weeks later he acquired a dog, a black Labrador puppy. He wasn't quite a purebred, but he was nevertheless described by the owner as top class. Wallander had decided in advance that the dog would be called Jussi, after the world-famous Swedish tenor who was one of Wallander's greatest heroes.

Nearly four years after he bought the house, on January 12, 2007, Wallander's whole life changed in an instant.

As he stepped out into the hall a few paces behind Kristina Magnusson, whom he liked viewing from behind when nobody was looking, the phone rang in his office. He considered ignoring it, but instead he turned and went back in. It was Linda. She had a few days off, having worked on New Year's Eve, during which Ystad had been unusually lively, with lots of cases of domestic violence and assaults.

"Do you have a minute?"

"Not really. We're on the verge of identifying some crooks in a big case."

"I need to see you."

Wallander thought she sounded tense. He started to worry, as he always did, that something might have happened to her.

"Is it anything serious?"

"Not at all."

"I can meet you at one o'clock."

"Mossby Strand beach?"

Wallander thought she was joking.

"Should I bring my bathing suit?"

"I'm serious. Mossby Strand. But no bathing suit."

"Why do we have to go out there in the cold with this icy wind blowing?"

"I'll be there at one o'clock. So will you."

She hung up before he could ask anything else. What did she want? He stood there, trying in vain to think of an answer. Then he went to the conference room with the best television set and sat for two hours going through CCTV camera footage for the case he was working on, the brutal attack and robbery of an elderly arms dealer and his wife. As twelve thirty approached, they were still only halfway through. Wallander stood up and announced that they could review the rest of the tapes after two o'clock. Martinsson, one of the officers Wallander had worked with longest in Ystad, looked at him in surprise.

"You mean we should stop now? With so much still to do? You don't usually break for lunch."

"I'm not going to eat. I have an appointment."

He left the room, thinking that his tone of voice had been unnecessarily sharp. He and Martinsson were not only colleagues, they were also friends. When Wallander threw his housewarming party out at Löderup it was of course Martinsson who gave a speech in praise of him, the dog, and the house. We are like an old hardworking couple, he thought as he left the police station. An old couple who are always bickering, mainly to keep each other on our toes.

He went to his car, a Peugeot he'd had for the last four years, and drove off. How many times have I driven along this road? How many more times will I drive along it? As he waited for a red light to change, he remembered something his father had told him about a cousin Wallander had never met. His cousin used to be captain of a ferry plying between several islands in the Stockholm archipelago-short trips, no more than five minutes at a time, but year in, year out, the same crossings. One afternoon in October something snapped inside him. The ferry had a full load, but he suddenly changed course and headed straight out to sea. He said later that he knew there was enough diesel in the tank to take him as far as one of the Baltic states. But that was all he said, after he was overpowered by angry passengers and the coast guard raced out to put the ferry back on course. He never explained why he did what he did.

But in a vague sort of way, Wallander thought he understood him.

As he drove west along the coast road he could see dark thunderclouds building up on the horizon. The radio had warned that there was a risk of more snow in the evening. Shortly before he passed the side road to Marsvinsholm he was overtaken by a motorcycle. The rider waved at him and made Wallander think of something that frightened him more than anything else: that one of these days Linda would have a motorcycle accident. He had been totally unprepared when, several years earlier, she turned up outside his apartment on her newly bought bike, a Harley- Davidson covered in glittering chrome. His first question when she took off her crash helmet was whether she had lost her mind.

"You don't know about all my dreams," she had said with a broad, happy grin. "Just as I'm sure I don't know all yours."

"I don't dream about a motorbike, that's for sure."

"Too bad. We could have gone for rides together."

From the Hardcover edition.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“With his new Wallander novel Mankell ups his game and enters John le Carré territory.” —Los Angeles Times

“[The] perpetually dour Swedish detective is at his gloomy best.” —The New York Times Book Review

“At once richer in personal detail and more suspenseful than either a work of strictly mainstream fiction or a simple police novel could be. Mankell remains in the vanguard of those writers taking the crime story back to its origins in the realistic novel.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A magnificent finale.” —Financial Times

“Arguably Mankell's best Wallander book—which makes the finale for his rule-breaking, overeating, over-drinking, depressed but ultimately good-hearted and righteous detective all the more poignant.” —The Plain Dealer
 
“Mankell’s prose is as blunt and pragmatic as his hero.” —The New Yorker
 
“By far the most personal and poignant in this classic and compulsive series.” —New York Journal of Books
 
“Mankell’s ability to unspool a mystery and Wallander’s ability to solve it are still at the head of the class.” —Newsday
 
“A story that rings deep and hinges on personal stakes. . . . It is the voice of the author—through his hero—and the illumination of layers of life in a thankless profession that lead into a delicious abyss of urgency battling with hopelessness, a rationalization of risk versus a reward already buried under a false headstone.” —The Oregonian
 
“A moving portrait of a man entering old age.” —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
 
“A richly embroidered tapestry.” —Providence Journal

Reading Group Guide

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggested further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of The Troubled Man, the final novel in Henning Mankell’s critically acclaimed and best-selling Kurt Wallander series.

1. The prologue to The Troubled Man concludes by asserting that this will be a story “about the realities of politics, this journey into the swamps where truth and lies are indistinguishable and nothing is clear” [p. 6]. In what ways can the book be read as an extended meditation on truth and lies, the discrepancy between appearance and reality?

2. Wallander is a very sympathetic and compelling character, yet as he appears in The Troubled Man he might not seem the most engaging protagonist. He’s sixty and in poor health, he’s forgetful, often irritable, and growing ever more obsessed with death. What makes him such an appealing character in spite of all this? What makes him unique? In what ways is he a kind of everyman?

3. Linda asks her father: “What does anybody ever know about another person? Isn’t that what you’re always reminding me of? Telling me never to be surprised?” [p. 265]. In what ways does the novel dramatize how difficult it is to ever really know another person? What are its most surprising revelations?

4. Wallander thinks that if “he had been a von Wallander, with a coat of arms and family motto, those were the words he would have chosen: sink or swim. That’s the way it had always been througout his life” [p. 173]. Why would Wallander choose “sink or swim” as his motto? How does it characterize his actions, his stance toward life and his detective work in particular?

5. Wallander carefully gathers evidence and works his way through it in an orderly, logical way. But he also relies on intution. At what junctures does his intution guide him in the right direction?

6. Wallander lets himself be decieved by Håkan. Does he fail to see through Håkan’s lies simply because Håkan is a good liar or is his failure partly due to his declining mental abilities? Should he have suspected Håkan earlier than he did? Why is he so willing to believe Håkan’s lies?

7. Why does Baiba’s death affect Wallander so profoundly?

8. How does Mankell manage to find the right balance between intriguing and frustrating his readers? Is it possible to discover the truth along with Wallander? Does Mankell give readers enough, or nearly enough, clues to solve the puzzle on their own?

9. Speaking of the weariness that comes from doing police work, Ytterberg asks Wallander: “How do we manage to survive it all?” Wallander replies: “I don’t know. Some sort of feeling of responsibility, I suspect. I once had a mentor, an old detective named Rydberg. That’s what he always used to say. It was a matter of responsibility, nothing more” [p. 203]. Why is this sense of responsibility so important to Wallander? To what does he feel responsible? What emotional and psychological toll does being a detective take on him?

10. What is the irony of Walander having Nordlander spy on the conversation in which Håkan admits he is a spy? Is Wallander himself aware of this irony?

11. Wallander is repeatedly frustrated by lies and deceptions in his quest to learn the truth about Håkan and Louise van Enke. And yet when he does finally discover the truth, he conceals it and deceives those who most wish to know it: Linda and Hans. What are his motives for keeping the truth a secret? Is he right to do so? Is the anonymous report he sends to Ytterberg enough? Where else does he lie in the novel?

12. In the afterword, Mankell writes that, while The Troubled Man is a work of fiction, “the most important things in this book are built on the solid foundation of reality.” That being the case, what does the novel suggest about the political realities of the Cold War? How surprising is it to learn of America’s spying on Sweden? What does the novel imply about espionage in our own time?

13. This may be the most intimate of the Wallander novels. What aspects of Wallander’s personal life are most compelling and poignant in The Troubled Man? In what ways is Wallander himself, rather than the mystery he’s trying to solve, the most engaging aspect of the novel?

14. Why might Mankell have chosen to end his Wallander series in this rather melancholy way, with Wallander losing his memory, fearing death, living in loneliness and finally sinking into Alzheimer’s? Is this a more fitting way to close the series than a more triumphant or dramatic ending would have been?

15. What has made Henning Mankell such a distinctive writer in the genre?

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The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander Series #10) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 2008 Sweden at Hakan von Enke's seventy fifth birthday party the disturbed former Swedish naval commander tells Kurt Wallander about a 1980 incident he was involved in. His crew found an unidentified submarine in Swedish territorial waters, but when he reported it to his superiors while preparing to force the sub to surface, he was told to back away. Soon after the septuagenarian tells his tale, he and his wife vanish. Although suffering from diabetes and memory lapses, and euphoric over the birth of his grandchild, sexagenarian Ystad Police Detective Wallander investigates what happened in the last few days to the parents of his daughter's mate and back during the height of the Cold War. Wallander is at his crusty best with a case that goes nowhere and with age aches reminding him of his mortality as he fears death making him The Troubled Man; as ironically also is von Enke over the 1980 incident. The mystery is top rate as always in this super Swedish police procedural as the hero sees his detecting days nearly over with the family torch going to his police officer daughter. However, he refuses to quit on an inquiry involving his future in-laws as the Cold War echoes two decades after it ended in wintry cold Sweden. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being of that age to have seen the changes in Europe over 45 years and have read the Stieg Larsson series, The Troubled Man captivated my attention. I look forward to reading more Henning Mankell novels. This is the last of the Kurt Wallander series and as such provides a very thoughtful conclusion. I will buy more of his novels and know they will be as enjoyable to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a huge fan of Henning Mankell's Wallender series, I was truly disappointed with The Troubled Man. I didn't want the series to end. But, I found this novel, the last in the Wallender series (#10), to be disjointed,overlong and depressing. As a reader, one senses Mankell's lack of interest in his main character and his urgent need to end the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After having read all of the Wallander novels this one was a great disappointment. Although it started out with great momentum it soon became tiresome. Wasn't too sure as to who the 'troubled man' was -- Hakan von Enke or Wallander.
Sarah Swanson More than 1 year ago
What makes Wallander books great is not fast paced action or mellodrama. It's the blending if Wallander's life, personality, and the mystery he is working on. The mystery is both secondary and central to Wallander, just as any detective, teacher or diagnostician must live. you go home at night, but part of your brain continues piecing together clues and worrying ar the problem. I've enjoyed the Wallander series over the years, and while it didnt read like a last book, I'm sad to see it end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fitting ending to a great series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed the story and getting to know the people involved. Well-written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not every story is supposed to end happily
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Henning Mankell's Kirt Wallender seriese books. Very entertaining and a lesson in Swedish lifestyle. Too bad. This is the last one. My Nook made reading the last two much easier on my old eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will like this book. series often sag after fiive or six books and start a new series. Dont blame the translator m.a.@sparta
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite Wallander book
BDickens More than 1 year ago
It may be the end of a series of Kurt Wallander's life as a policeman and his own doubts for his future, but it is a must read. International intrigue and family come together, with a mystery full of surprises. It seems only Kurt can piece together the puzzle as he travels around Sweden getting help in the most unlikely places. A pure joy and at times it tears at your soul. Makes you think.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. I have watched a few episodes of the TV series, but this is the first of the Wallander books that I have read. It was fun to learn more in the book about the character, Kurt Wallander, and get more in to his thoughts. My only regret is I wish I had read one or two of the earlier books in the series before reading this one. I liked the author's writing style and will definitely go aback and read some of the earlier books in the series now.
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Mankell has broken my heart.  I mourned Inspector Morse for so long, and now I must mourn Wallander, too.  I have read the Wallander series from the start. How could Mankell end it this way!
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