Henning Mankell (Harvill Secker)

Henning Mankell is a revered crime writer in his native Sweden but 50 pages into his latest novel Italian Shoes and I was still waiting for the body count to rack up.

Instead what I got was a quiet, understated tale of belated emotional growth set in the chilly depths of Sweden.

Frederick Welin is a retired surgeon who, some years earlier, retreated to a remote island after a catastrophic mistake ended his career.

Then one day his icy tranquility is shattered by the arrival of an old woman, who struggles to reach him across the frozen lake that buffers him from the world.

Yup, this is definitely one of those “your past is catching up with you” type of stories where poor Welin is forced out of his comfort zone to finally face up to his past actions.

But the green shoots of growth that Welin experiences are entirely believable, and the message that comes through loud and clear is that “it’s never too late” – kinda like the Kylie song but more philosophical.