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The White Lioness, Henning Mankell - Another excellent outing for Kurt Wallander
on 13 June 2010
This is another must for all lovers of well written crime thrillers, from the pen of Henning Mankell and starring Kurt Wallander, one of the best detectives created in recent times.
This is a complex tale. Almost two books in one, it tells the tale of an assassination plot in South Africa, with tendrils reaching as far as Sweden. Mankell alternates sections of the two distinct tales, the story of the plot and investigation in South Africa and the investigation by Wallander of a seemingly motiveless murder, bringing the two together and tying up the whole thing satisfactorily in the last few pages.
As with the predecessor, the excellent `Dogs Of Riga', this book tackles some weighty political and moral issues head on. Centred around the fall of apartheid and white rule in South Africa it shows the regime for what it was. He describes the lives of ordinary people, showing their preconceptions and ability to not see the truth in almost forensic detail. This section of the book is a fascinating, well researched and well written account of the period, and the moral and ethical issues arising from the situation.
The thriller component of the book is mainly contained in the Swedish strand, with Wallander's hunt for the murderer and the personal implications as the killer turns his attentions on Wallander and his family. As usual with Mankell, this is a well written and pacey bit of crime fiction, not afraid to show the mundane procedures that form an important part of any real life investigation. Things really hot up when Wallander gets on the trail of the killer, and he must push the boundaries of his abilities and moral code in order to see justice served.
Another tense, atmospheric book from Mankell. All the characters are well written, with distinctive voices. The motivations of all are considered, with some interesting studies of human nature. Don't be put off by the nearly 600 pg length, the book draws you in and after a few pages you find yourself totally immersed in it and unable to put it down. Mankell is a top notch writer and holds your attention right to the last page. An excellent read, essential to all those who enjoy thoughtful crime thrillers with a moody atmosphere and a moral lesson (but not one which is rammed down the throat). Five stars, no hesitation.