Henning Mankell's THE TROUBLED MAN. This is the nervously awaited final Kurt Wallander novel. You note from the start that Mankell plans to do away with the man. This arouses considerable pity in the reader. Wallander suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure. He adds to this black-outs and memory losses, and eventually a heart attack. Maybe we're overdoing things a bit, but it works. It frightens Wallander who begins to relive his past and revisit the women in his life, all the while dealing with a murder case close to his family. The case soon broadens into the past and focuses on submarines, the Swedish navy, and spying by the Russians.
This branching away from the police procedural (Wallander takes time off to deal with spies!) may make the novel appeal to a broader audience, but for me it weakened it considerably and accounted for the reason the book dragged in places.
I'm playing catch-up here and will comment on several books:
Peter Robinson, THE FIRST CUT. Robinson is generally a fine writer of police procedurals. This is a thriller. I don't care that much for thrillers and didn't finish it. Part of the reason is the back and forth between the past and the present. The rest is the nature of the crime: the perpetrator abducts young women and then slowly carves them up while they are alive. One of his victims tries to hunt him down.
Stuart Kaminsky, A WHISPER TO THE LIVING. This is a Rostnikoff novel. I did finish this. Nothing much new here from past ones. Perhaps of interest is the political change that has taken place in Moscow, but this didn't affect any of the usual characters. The series is beginning to feel flat.
Ed McBain, EIGHTY MILLION EYES. Another one I didn't finish. McBain is called seminal for police procedurals and has influenced some of the Scandinavian writers. Alas, I cannot take the style: nothing but dialogue. It's like being forced to listen to recorded phone conversations for hours on end. Needless to say, there is no internalizing and no sense of character.
Sorry to hear you're not enjoying McBain. It's been years since I've read his stuff, but as a kid I loved his 87th Precinct novels. Remembering them as very fast reads though,s so that might be the dialogue heavy prose.
Anyway, I'm reading ALONE by Lisa Gardner and am enjoying it quite a bit.
David DeLee - a Grace deHaviland novel
I'm reading Wyatt by Australian crime author Garry Disher. Terrific so far.
Also got to meet Garry at the Sydney Writers' Festival, so my copy is signed!
Reviewed Wyatt by Garry Disher, a great Aussie crime author.
IJ, this was definitely worth reading. Keep an eye out for it next time you shop.