ALSO BY HENNING MANKELL
Chronicler of the Winds
The Eye of the Leopard
The Man from Beijing
The Kurt Wallander Mysteries
The Dogs of Riga
The White Lioness
The Man Who Smiled
The Fifth Woman
One Step Behind
A Kurt and Linda Wallander Mystery
Before the Frost
The Return of the Dancing Master
THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK
PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF
AND ALFRED A. KNOPF CANADA
Translation copyright © 2011 by Laurie Thompson
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Knopf Canada and colophon are trademarks.
Originally published in Sweden as
Den orolige mannen
by Leopard Förlag, Stockholm, in 2009. Copyright © 2009 by Henning Mankell.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Mankell, Henning, [date]
[Orolige mannen. English]
The troubled man / by Henning Mankell; translated by Laurie Thompson.
1. Wallander, Kurt (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Police—Sweden—Fiction. 3. Sweden—Armed Forces—Officers—Crimes against—Fiction. 4. Missing persons—Fiction. I. Title.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Mankell, Henning, 1948–
The troubled man / Henning Mankell; translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson.
Translation of: Den orolige mannen.
I. Thompson, Laurie, 1938– II. Title.
PT9876.23.A4907613 2011 839.73′74 C2010-904262-X
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Jacket photograph by Mark Dye
Jacket design by Barbara de Wilde
People always leave traces
No person is without a shadow
You forget what you want to remember
and remember what you would prefer to forget
—Graffiti on buildings in New York City
The story begins with a sudden fit of rage.
The cause of it was a report that had been submitted the previous evening, which the prime minister was now reading at his poorly lit desk. But shortly before that, the stillness of morning held sway in the Swedish government offices.
It was 1983, an early spring day in Stockholm, with a damp fog hovering over the city and trees that had not yet come into leaf.
When Prime Minister Olof Palme finished reading the last page, he stood up and walked over to a window. Seagulls were wheeling around outside.
The report was about the submarines. The accursed submarines that in the fall of 1982 were presumed to have violated Swedish territorial waters. In the middle of it all there was a general election in Sweden, and Olof Palme had been asked by the Speaker to form a new government since the non-socialist parties had lost several seats and no longer had a parliamentary majority. The first thing the new government did was to set up a commission to investigate the incident with the submarines, which had never been forced to surface. Former defense minister Sven Andersson was chairman of the commission. Olof Palme had now read his report and was none the wiser. The conclusions were incomprehensible. He was furious.
But it should be noted that this was not the first time Palme had gotten worked up about Sven Andersson. His aversion really dated back to the day in June 1963, just before Midsummer, when an elegantly dressed gray-haired fifty-seven-year-old man was arrested on Riksbron in the center of Stockholm. It was done so discreetly that nobody in the vicinity noticed anything unusual. The man arrested was Stig Wennerström, a colonel in the Swedish air force who had been exposed as a spy for the Soviet Union.
When he was arrested, the prime minister at the time, Tage Erlander, was
on his way home from a trip abroad, one of his few vacations, to one of Reso’s resorts in Riva del Sole. When Erlander stepped off the airplane and was mobbed by a large crowd of journalists, not only was he totally unprepared, he also knew next to nothing about the incident. Nobody had told him about the arrest, and he had heard nothing about a suspicious Colonel Wennerström. It is possible that the name and the suspicions had been mentioned in passing when the minister of defense held one of his infrequent information sessions with the prime minister, but not in connection with anything serious, anything specific. There were always rumors circulating about suspected Russian spies in the murky waters that constituted the so-called Cold War. And so Erlander’s response was less than illuminating. The man who had been prime minister without a break for what seemed like an eternity—twenty-three years, to be exact—stood there openmouthed and had no idea what to say since neither Defense Minister Andersson nor anybody else involved had informed him of what was going on. During the last part of his journey home, from Copenhagen to Stockholm, which barely took an hour, he could have been filled in and thus been prepared to say something to the excited journalists; but nobody had met him at Kastrup Airport and accompanied him on the last leg of the flight.
During the days that followed, Erlander came very close to resigning as prime minister and leader of the Social Democrats. Never before had he been so disappointed in his colleagues in government. And Olof Palme, who had already emerged as Erlander’s chosen successor, naturally shared his mentor’s anger at the nonchalance that had resulted in Erlander’s humiliation. Palme watched over his master like a savage bloodhound, as they used to say in circles close to the government.
He could never forgive Sven Andersson for what he had done to Tage Erlander.
Subsequently, a lot of people wondered why Palme included Andersson in his governments. However, it was not particularly difficult to understand why. Of course Palme could have refused; but in practice it simply wasn’t possible. Andersson had a lot of power and a lot of influence among the grass roots of the party. He was the son of a laborer, unlike Palme, who had direct links to Baltic nobility, had officers in his family—indeed, he was a reserve officer himself—and had come from the well-to-do Swedish upper class. He had no grassroots support in the party. Olof Palme was a defector who was no doubt serious about his political allegiance to the Social Democrats, but nevertheless, he was an outsider, a political pilgrim who had wandered into the party.
· · ·
Now Palme could no longer contain his fury. He turned to face Sven Andersson, who was sitting hunched up on the gray sofa in the prime minister’s office. Palme was bright red in the face, and his arms were twitching in the strange way they did when he lost his temper.
“There is no proof,” he roared. “Only claims, insinuations, nods and winks from disloyal navy officers. This investigation has shed light on nothing at all. On the contrary, it has left us wallowing in political swamps.”
A couple of years before, in the early hours of October 28, 1981, a Soviet submarine had run aground in Gåsefjärden Bay off Karlskrona. The bay was not only Swedish territorial water, but also a military restricted area. The submarine was labeled
, and the captain on board, Anatoli Michailovitch Gushchin, maintained that his craft had gone off course because of an unknown defect in its gyrocompass. Swedish naval officers and local fishermen were convinced that only an extremely drunk captain could have managed to penetrate that far into the archipelago without running aground earlier.
On November 6,
was towed out into international waters and disappeared. But on that occasion there had been no doubt at all that it was a Russian submarine in Swedish territorial waters. However, it was never established if it had been an intentional violation of Swedish sovereignty or a case of drunkenness at sea. No respectable navy would admit, of course, that their commanding officer had been drunk while on duty.
So their denial was regarded as proof that he had been. But where was the proof now?
No one knows what former minister of defense Andersson had to say in his own defense and that of his investigation. He made no notes, and Olof Palme was assassinated a year or so afterward; he left no witness accounts either.
So it all began with a fit of rage. This story about the realities of politics, this journey into the swamps where truth and lies are indistinguishable and nothing is clear.
The year Kurt Wallander celebrated his fifty-fifth birthday, he fulfilled a long-held dream. Ever since his divorce from Mona fifteen years earlier, he had intended to leave his apartment in Mariagatan, where so many unpleasant memories were etched into the walls, and move out to the country. Every time he came home in the evening after a stressful and depressing workday, he was reminded that once upon a time he had lived there with a family. Now the furniture stared at him as if accusing him of desertion.
He could never reconcile himself to living there until he became so old that he might not be able to look after himself anymore. Although he had not yet reached the age of sixty, he reminded himself over and over again of his father’s lonely old age, and he knew he had no desire to follow in his footsteps. He needed only to look into the bathroom mirror in the morning when he was shaving to see that he was growing more and more like his father. When he was young, his face had resembled his mother’s. But now it seemed as if his father was taking him over—like a runner who has been lagging a long way behind but is slowly catching up the closer he gets to the invisible finish line.