When archaeologist Louise Cantor’s son, Henrik, is found dead in his flat, she refuses to believe it was suicide. Clues that only a mother could detect lead her to believe something more sinister took place.
Henrik had kept many things back from her, and she is shocked to learn he had contracted HIV. While looking through his bundles of papers, she discovers he was obsessed with the conspiracy theory that JFK’s brain disappeared prior to the autopsy – along with the vital evidence regarding bullet exit wounds. The only lead is a letter and photograph from Henrik’s girlfriend in Mozambique.
Louise’s quest to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s death takes her to Africa; a continent rife with disease, poverty, and corruption. Struggling to cope with sickness and the oppressive heat, Louise sees fear in every face, even unexpectedly in the patients at the clinics set up by an American businessman. In Kennedy’s Brain Mankell confirms his status as a master of suspense, and delivers a timely and riveting thriller which will have readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.
©2007 Henning Mankell (P)2009 Random House Audio
Although the narrator Anna Bentinck is extremely good, this book does not deliver on the promises of the publishers summary confirming Mankell's 'status as a master of suspense, and delivers a timely and riveting thriller which will have readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.' I am a keen fan of Mankell's Kurt Wallender mysteries and expected this book to have the same sort of pace and suspencefulness. It is agonisingly slow and contemplative and no-one could be in any doubt about what the death of her son means to the main character Louise Cantor. Mankell's portrayal of Africa - the ravages of Aids/HIV on the population, and ruthless expolitation by the 1st world rings horrifyingly true. And the parallels to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad are many - Kurtz, death, darkness and horror. Wandering about in the middle of this is a solitary, middleaged, vulnerable, fey Swedish archeologist discovering her son's secret life and looking for his killer to take revenge. The lack of any possible satisfactory resolution made it hard to finish. Your time would be better spent listening to Heart of Darkness and Audible has seveal versions available.
"Disappointing: too polemical and rambling"
I am a fan of Henning Mankell's Wallander novels and have enjoyed a couple of his non-detective books and so had high hopes that I would like Kennedy's Brain. There is little in the story to connect to the eponymous President's disappearing brain, but a lot about AIDS in Africa, a topic near to the heart of the author, and the inequities of US drug companies (which I do believe). The proselytizing gets in the way of the rather rambling story of archaeologist, Louise Cantor's, quest to find out why her son had died in mysterious circumstances in his Stockholm flat. Her quest takes her to Australia, Spain and Africa. Louise is depicted as treating others in an irritable and sometimes rude way which makes her a main character about whom one doesn't feel the necessary sympathy to follow her through the book.
The narrator of the book, though, does a grand job with different accents to help the listener identify the various characters.
There are too many sub-plots and speechifying by characters and I was getting bored by the last couple of hours of the book, but carried on as I was doing other things at the same time. Disappointing as the author, in other books, has creates a terrific narrative-drive that can keep me awake late into the night. Maybe his personal involvement in trying to combat the AIDS epidemic in Africa has clouded his usual skills.
This books was so different from the Wallender books, and brought up topics that were not easy listening.
The story line was excellent and the narration by Anna Bentnick very good. Aids in Africa is a difficult subject but this book which is fiction probably based on fact makes you angry about man's inhumanity to men. Recommended for the thrilling read, and the story which will keep you guessing all the way.
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