Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. ~Dylan Thomas
After reading all the Kurt Wallander novels, including Before the Frost, A Linda Wallander Mystery, it saddens me that this series is coming to an end. Kurt Wallander is an unrelenting, determined, committed, and very intelligent detective. He is a loner, having divorced and living alone. He has had a few love affairs, but they have all ended unhappily. His father was a painter who produced the same painting 7,000 times. His daughter, Linda, tried to commit suicide as a teenager, although by this book their relationship is well on the mend. He seems the last man to go gentle into the dying of the light. I would have expected him to rage, rage against the closing of his day.
Set in Sweden (what is up with these Swedish mystery writers?), the novels have a strong sense of setting. The novels have an underlying question: “What has gone wrong with Swedish society?” The murders generally have a underlying political cause that Wallander must discover.
The title The Troubled Man clearly refers to Kurt Wallander himself. Throughout his detection of this latest case, he is uneasy about his occasional lapses of memory. At the end, “the shadow grew more intense.” He has Alzheimer’s and Mankell concludes, “The years – ten, perhaps more – he has left to live are his own.”
All of the books (dates are the English language publications)
Faceless Killers (2000)
The Dogs of Riga (2001)
The White Lioness (1998)
The Man Who Smiled (2005)
The Fifth Woman (2000)
One Step Behind (2002)
The Pyramid (2008)
The Troubled Man (2011)
are powerful, well-plotted, character-driven (by Kurt Wallander), and most satisfying.
Mankell has written other novels not in the Wallander series. I have one, The Return of the Dancing Master, which I have had for some time but resisted because I wanted to be faithful to Kurt. Now that he has gone gently into that good night, I will move on to other Mankells.