It’s always a disappointment when one’s favourite authors fail to live up to expectations. Such is the case with Henning Mankell’s latest – the dull, meandering The Man From Beijing that seems more like a vehicle for the author’s socio-economic and political views than the “gripping political thriller” promised by the blurb.
It opens with one of the most prolonged and gory descriptions of a harrowing crime imaginable. A judge on sick leave wanders into the crime scene and bothers uncooperative local police with her questions … and it’s all downhill from there.
A tedious back history of nineteenth century Chinese railroad workers in the US slows any action completely. After that the story, such as it is, wanders through Sweden, China, Zambia, Mozambique and London, always well padded with lengthy discourses on politics, economics and international relations. Nothing, in fact, that can’t be read in the opinion pages of the daily papers.
It all ends in a sudden preposterous dash to the finish helped by unlikely coincidences and much jumping to conclusions.
Such a disappointment and such a waste of good reading time.