“Italian Shoes” by Henning Mankell
The creator of the compulsive Kurt Wallander detective series casts aside his hero in this stand-alone novel and shows his prowess as an evocative writer.
He powerfully exploits the metaphor of the climatic ebb and flow in the Stockholm archipelago to bring out the mood of characters ranging from pathetic to banal and just plain crazy.
Mid-sixties surgeon Frederick Welin has become a virtual recluse on the island, barely more than a skerry, inherited from his grandparents.
He speaks only to the postman and the coastguard.
Welin made a frightful professional gaffe and destroyed his reputation and career by refusing to acknowledge responsibility.
One day a dying woman makes her way across the ice and is brought into the house he shares with a car and dog.
She is Harriet Hörnfeldt, a love he banned four decades earlier when he went to study in America.
The novel on these of estrangement, loss, fear, isolation, aging and redemption takes us through the seasons in Sweden and up through the forests in his clapped out car keeping a promise to Harriet to take her to a lake he visited with his late farmer.
Not surprisingly the crime writer injects surprise in the shape of characters who greatly amaze and exasperate. 2018-07-30