Author: Henning Mankell, 2009. Translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson, 2011.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Thriller. Police Procedural. Nordic Noir.
Other Details: Hardback. 367 pages.
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. - synopsis from author's website.
I had put off reading the last in the Kurt Wallander series because I really did not want to say goodbye. Yet with the BBC4 transmission of the TV adaptation of the novel I figured the time had come to say goodbye. I appreciated the Cold War elements of the story.
Like many in the series, this is a very slow burning novel as Kurt investigates the disappearance of the parents of his daughter's partner. It is an unofficial case that he slots into his free time and during various holidays. Throughout Kurt is haunted by his own fears of old age and dying. His health has never been brilliant and now something else is stalking him. I found it a very sad book for this reason. It is certainly not one to read first if not familiar with the series and characters even though Mankell provides a good amount of back story and reminders of past events.
While not the best in the series, it still proved that Henning Mankell is a master of the Scandinavian crime genre. I am so glad that I discovered his writings before Nordic Noir came into fashion.