At the same time he finally takes action on his long held yearning for a place of his own in the countryside and buys a home a short distance from Ystad.
Having reached 60 years of age Wallander is reflective, even brooding, about his life and uncomfortable about his future. Since I am 59 I can relate to Wallander thinking about the long past and shorter future. He has little optimism about his senior years. He dwells on the negatives of growing old even considering himself old at 60. He ages on the pages.
In 2008 Wallander reluctantly travels to
for the 75th birthday party of Håkan von Ende, the father of Hans, who is a retired Swedish naval officer. During the formal event Håkan draws Wallander into a windowless room for a private conversation. Stockholm
Håkan, who had been a submarine commander, wants to talk about his frustrations over events twenty-eight years earlier in 1980 with regard to the discovery of a foreign submarine in Swedish waters. The navy has long suspected Russian submarines of violating Swedish waters and had a sub cornered when suddenly an order directs the navy to take no action. Despite extensive research Håkan has never been able to determine what happened. Wallander cannot determine why Håkan reveals his concerns to him. Wallander leaves the party with little more understanding than Håkan is a troubled man.
When Håkan disappears a few months later Wallander is both personally drawn to investigate and pushed by Linda to find out what has happened to Håkan.
Unlike his other mysteries Wallander does not investigate the disappearance as part of a police team. While liaising with Ytterberg, the officer in charge, it is essentially a solo quest by Wallander.
Information comes slowly and is found with difficulty. Wallander, a most logical man, finds it hard that the information is not fitting together. Linda occasionally provides insight and it is clear they would be an interesting mystery duo. They have a loving, if sometimes prickly, relationship.
During the book individuals and events from earlier in Wallander’s life become part of the story. There is a drawing together of his life. Wallander is almost overwhelmed by his personal issues.
Yet the book does not come together as well as other Wallander mysteries. There is evidence that is not followed to a conclusion and evidence for which there is no resolution. As the book reached its conclusion the ending did not feel right and was not convincing.
Where Before the Frost was a great book which was one of my Best of 2009 The Troubled Man left me discouraged as the ending of the series. It clearly demonstrated Mankell wanted to be done with Wallander. I wish Before the Frost had been the last Wallander mystery or Mankell changes his mind and writes a better finish to the series. Mankell could have had Wallander solving more mysteries while establishing a relationship with his grandchild. I acknowledge that I regret seeing the series of great sleuths come to a conclusion. I prefer to see them end with the death of their creator. (Dec. 27/11)