Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Man from Beijing.

A few months back, I came across the Swedish crime writing of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.

Now I am discovering the world of Henning Mankell.  Another Swedish author of crime/thriller.

The Man from Beijing.

This book was fun.  In a creepy thriller kinda way.

Thrillers - usually involving murder, corruption, cover-ups - possibly my favourite genre of book. 
And this book did not disappoint.

It begins immediately with crime and chaos on a massive scale.  An eerie beginning in a small Swedish hamlet, where most of the occupants and animals are dead. And not in a pretty way.

What makes this story interesting, and perhaps more complex, is the interweaving of past and present.  And by past, I mean 150-odd years ago.  The crimes in this book are all about power and revenge, stemming from events over a century ago. 
As a reader, you are shifted from present, to past, and back again, with darting references to a history you are not shown completely, as well as being shifted from country to country.  In fact, it was Mankell's own commentary on the social and political movements in China and Africa that really beefed up the storyline. 

And the product is not a simple tale of crime.  Instead, you are reading a heartbreaking family history, a tale of political upheaval, and the suspenseful journey of a women who was intrigued by the truth.

One sentiment spoken in this book rings true:  "The truth is never simple".  "It's only in the Western world that you think knowledge is something you can acquire quickly and easily.  It takes time.  The truth never hurries."

I'm now reading Mankell's The Eye of the Leopard, another thriller set in Africa. 

So far .. it is nowhere near as captivating.  I'm in chapter five, and so far it is all character-building monologues of dreams, memories, and really vague undertones of a past ..

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