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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The White Lioness by Henning Mankell

The White Lioness (Wallander #3)The White Lioness by Henning Mankell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads:  Third in the Kurt Wallander series.  The execution-style murder of a Swedish housewife looks like a simple case even though there is no obvious suspect. But then Wallander learns of a determined stalker, and soon enough, the cops catch up with him. But when his alibi turns out to be airtight, they realize that what seemed a simple crime of passion is actually far more complex—and dangerous. The search for the truth behind the killing eventually uncovers an assassination plot, and Wallander soon finds himself in a tangle with both the secret police and a ruthless foreign agent. Combining compelling insights into the sinister side of modern life with a riveting tale of international intrigue, The White Lioness keeps you on the knife-edge of suspense.
At 14 disks, this was not a short "read". It was, however, engrossing. A very accomplished narrator brought the story to life with small things like sighs, actual chortles and laughs, sounds of disbelief, and a great intonation. I have not Googled him, but I suspect he was bilingual in Swedish which, being a Swedish book, added to the appeal.

I found the point of view transitions to be interesting from a literary standpoint. In some cases, they seemed a abrupt which is a fault of an audiobook - you don't get to see where there is a break on the page, that visual aspect lost to the audio medium. In other instances, the POV changes were well executed and fascinating to listen to. My most notable and favorite example was when Wallander was kidnapped by Mumbasa (sorry if the spelling is off) and taken to a tomb outside of a city - the POV was Mumbasa's and then during an action scene in which we see Kurt running away, the POV runs with him. Nicely executed.

Another interesting aspect of reading a Swedish book is how the author perceives "good guys" and "bad guys" in literature. Here in the States for years, it's been the Russian's as Bad Guys (Hunt for Red October, about half of the Bond books...just to name a few). Well, it seems that the ol' USSR/KGB issues still weighed heavily on some European countries, but with ties to South Africa. Fascinating.

I have a couple complaints with White Lioness: one lies with the expository bits that turned into a lecture on the social ills in South Africa at the time Mandela was just released from prison. They came across as "Insert Lecture Here" rather than as a part of the story. There also seemed to be a bit of "shame on you Sweden" for not standing up more to the ills in the world, but rather due to remoteness of it's geographical local, taking more of a "not my problem" attitude. So I was less thrilled with the lectures as they kept cropping up.

My other complaint was the book just didn't want to end. Yes, one had to tidy up the storyline that took the plot back to S. Africa, but good grief! It just kept dragging on with inept office people, messages being lost, memo's not being received - I'm all for reality, but egads, end the story already!

Recommended if you don't mind the angst-ridden, depressed detective/policeman type mysteries with political commentary.

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