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by Henning Mankell and Laurie Thomson, trans.
Vintage, May 2012
576 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 0099571692

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Kurt Wallander is a lonely soul. His relationship with his father is strained, his daughter has moved to Stockholm and his wife left him many years ago. As if that wasn't enough, poor old Kurt's job brings him into contact with some of the least pleasant members of Swedish society, one of whom has burgled the detective's flat and stolen his beloved music collection. But THE WHITE LIONESS sees Wallander's troubles move farther afield; a secret network of South African power-brokers is using his homeland as a base for some serious mischief-making in response to what they see as the threat of Nelson Mandela's recent release from prison.

The action kicks off when Methodist estate agent Louise Akerblom goes missing from her south Sweden home. Wallander has a bad feeling about the case from the start and he's not proved wrong. When he comes into danger he takes matters into his own hands - being Wallander's boss or Wallander's doctor would not be an easy life. Although nor would being Wallander himself. He must battle bureaucratic incompetence to fight the forces disrupting the Swedish peace.

The plot reflects Henning Mankell's interest in Africa he lives in Mozambique for at least six months a year and has contributed to several charity projects on the continent. It's an engaging story, with a real sense of danger building steadily towards the end. Although one of the heftier Wallander tomes, THE WHITE LIONESS at times provides only tantalising glimpses of the South African characters. It would perhaps have been interesting as a story based only in the southern hemisphere but maybe Mankell (or his publisher) was keen to keep Wallander in the game.

Despite the basics of the conspiracy being clear almost from the start, Mankell maintains a compelling sense of suspense. Threat, intrigue, suspense, politics, a depressed Scandinavian detective and an intriguing insight into the Swedish passport system. What more could you want? Mankell clearly knows his craft.

Liza Kahlua is a writer based in Bristol. She enjoys reading a wide range of fiction, as long as it's not too gruesome.

Reviewed by Liza Kahlua, July 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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