Henning Mankell, Kennedy’s Brain
Named after an organ inexplicably missing from the corpse of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, this edgy book is ostensibly about the suicide of Henrik Kantor, a man of inscrutable profession. Swedish archaeologist Louise Cantor goes in search of answers and finds an underworld of greed and corruption linked to an AIDS epidemic. Swedish author Henning Mankell is widely known for his Wallander detective novels and for his fictional worlds. Noted espionage writer Dan Fesperman explores in his appreciation why Mankell’s readers are addicted to his work.
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Some of the most trenchant social reality novels have come from the Swede Henning Mankell . The deserved winner of the CWA Gold Dagger with Sidetracked, it was a turning-point in the reception of Scandinavian crime with both readers and publishers in the Anglo-Saxon world. As a consequence a good deal more European crime fiction was translated into English. Inevitably, “Wallander is one of the great creations of modern crime fiction” said Barry Forshaw, and further “overweight, diabetes-ridden and with all the problems of modern society leaving scars on his soul”. He made it to the TV screens with Kenneth Branagh in the lead; but not before the books had been highly successful in a home-grown Swedish series. Mankell is married to Eva Bergman, daughter of legendary Swedish film maker Ingmar Bergman. This is one of his social reality mystery novels, derived from Mankell’s campaigning work about AIDS in Africa.
Plotline: All signs indicate that the death of young Henrik Cantor is a suicide. However, his parents don’t agree and begin an investigation of their own. Kennedy’s Brain is the new thriller by Henning Mankell. One day in the fall of 2004 the Swedish archaeologist Louise Cantor leaves her excavation in Greece to attend a conference in Stockholm. She is to meet her son Henrik there, but he does not turn up. When Louise manages to get into his flat she finds Henrik dead. Everything indicates a suicide, but Louise refuses to believe it. Together with her ex-husband, Aron Cantor, Louise tries to trace the whereabouts of Henrik in the last period of his life. This leads into a underworld that has been created in the wake of the aids epidemic, a world populated by people trying to exploit the victims of the catastrophe. There are cynical businessmen selling infected blood, research teams carrying out dubious and dangerous tests in their hunt for a vaccine, and not least there are drug dealers who in the aids medicine have found a new object to sell. Louise and Aron soon realise that exactly like Henrik they are risking their lives when following the tracks that lead upwards and upwards to mighty financial institutions and into the corridors of power. And for those who have started this journey there is no return. Kennedy’s brain (Kennedys hjärna) is a breathtaking tale about the great collective lie under which Europe and the Western world is living in the time of aids.
Kennedy’s Brain was issued in 2007 in a run of 80 signed and numbered copies in a special binding. It was a delight to have Dan Fersperman accept our invitation to write the appreciation of the author. Dan Fesperman is a noted espionage writer and winner of the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for The Small Boat of Great Sorrows (2003). He explores in his appreciation why Mankell’s readers are addicted to his work.