On my list of favorite detectives, Kurt Wallander is close to the top where Inspector Morse resides with Armand Gamache and Guido Brunetti Although I thought this book was fine, it wasn t my favorite Wallander or my favorite Henning Mankell, for that matter far from it There was some wonderfully evocative moodiness and the usual good characterizations, but very little suspense and a lot of clunky translation I don t understand why the latter would have occurred, as the book was translated by the usual person, who generally does a superb job SoI am already looking forward to the next installment in the series, but will not be dwelling on this one. This is my second book in this police procedural series, set in a small city in southern Sweden I found this less than fully compelling Here are some of my problems with the book 1 The pacing is slow, and the book bogs down a bit in the middle.2 The mystery at the heart of the book is suspected financial crime by the principal of a large and secretive complex of businesses The murder of several people, and the attempted murder of a couple of others, trigger the police investigation and apparently were engineered in order to cover up the financial improprieties However, Mankell never explains clearly what the financial activities are, and never attempts to explain what the first victim discovered that led to his murder For a book ultimately based on financial crime, the description of the business aspects is very unsophisticated.3 Police procedurals typically proceed by having the investigating police officers build up evidence, and thereby unravel the mystery, by individual acts of investigation, research, analysis of physical evidence, etc as the evidence accumulates, they are able to piece together the story Successful books in this genre build suspense and cause the reader to become invested in the story by the gradual revelation of the truth through the careful, painstaking and pedestrian investigation Mankell simply doesn t build his story particularly well The guilty party is suspected for much of the book, but evidence doesn t really accumulate, and obvious targets of investigation don t seem to be thought of In fact, the police in this case acquire very little actual evidence, and the guilt party is demonstrated only through an absurdly silly, television like confession at the end.Having read two books in this series, I have no interest whatsoever in reading any others I think I have one on my to read shelves, in which case I may read it at some point, but I certainly won t buy any of Mankell s books. After Killing A Man In The Line Of Duty, Kurt Wallander Resolves To Quit The Ystad Police However, A Bizarre Case Gets Under His Skin A Lawyer Driving Home At Night Stops To Investigate An Effigy Sitting In A Chair In The Middle Of The Highway The Lawyer Is Hit Over The Head And Dies Within A Week The Lawyer S Son Is Also Killed These Deeply Puzzling Mysteries Compel Wallander To Remain On The Force The Prime Suspect Is A Powerful Corporate Mogul With A Gleaming Smile That Wallander Believes Hides The Evil Glee Of A Killer Joined By Ann Britt Hoglund, Wallander Begins To Uncover The Truth, But The Same Merciless Individuals Responsible For The Murders Are Now Closing In On Him Coffee was supposedly introduced to Europe by Dutch traders in the late 1600s I think it s safe to say that at that point, every Swedish detective immediately started guzzling copious amounts of the stuff haven t stopped this practice since It is of no surprise to me that Wallander has such bad insomnia when you come home at 3 in the morning drink a cup of coffee, is it any wonder that you re still awake at 6 30 Although I appreciate his dedication to duty, in that he just drinks coffee heads to work to continue solving crimes, I wish he d just lay off the coffee already get some sleep I like Wallander a lot as a character and I like the people he works with I think this may have just been a bad place to start out this series, because the mystery seems a little far fetched Your lawyer finds out some of your dirty secrets, so you kill him Okay so far You also kill his son just to make certain he can t tell anything he might know about you Also fine by me But when you plant a land mine in the secretary s back yard, that seems a bit overboard And Wallander is so insistent that this criminal wouldn t possibly kill a cop who s sneaking around his property but he planted a land mine in an old lady s backyard He s already tried to blow you up you up in your car, anyway, so how does that follow Wonderful book Presenting truly how police work impacts a man s psyche The shooting, though justifiable, weighs heavily on Kurt A year has passed and he is resolved, after 25 years service, to retire from the police force.During a visit to Denmark, he is visited by Sten Torstensson, an old friend, now practicing lawyer in his father s firm His father had been recently found dead in an accident Kurt declines his request to investigate the matter deeper.Returning to Sweden, he finds an obituary for Sten His interest peaked, he finds himself rethinking his decision to retire.The investigation is one of the best written that I ve read so far Police follow many avenues with small clues coming in and yet not presenting a clear motive or murderer It is only the discovery by the police forensic scientist of a plastic can that presents those.Mankell writes well of police frustrations with Sweden s sentencing standards and yet this book finds itself ending on a very soft note in this area The contractor of the murders is apprehended at the airport but I found myself thinking that he would never be sentenced appropriately based on the evidence available. A Kurt Wallender police procedural or not since Wallender does not always follow police procedures It is best if you read these books in order even though each one is a stand alone in many ways, there are references in Wallenders personal life that will be unclear if you have not read the books in order This is book 4 1 is FAceless Killers, 2 is Dogs of Riga, 3 is White Lioness This book begins with Wallender doubting himself and dealing with the occurrences in Book 3 where he had to kill a man At this point he takes an extended to leave to deal with his feelings As he is pacing along the beach, thinking, a friend of his, Sten Torstenssen, visits him and wants Wallenders help Sten s father recently died in a car accident and Sten does not believe it was an accident Wallender tells Sten he cannot help him Soon after Wallender returns home where he decides to leave the police force On the day he is to leave he learns that Sten has been murdered and the story begins Wallender feels guilty for not helping his friend and knows he must not let him down now he must solve the crime The Man Who Smiled is number four in the Wallander series, picking up some time after Wallander s experiences in book 3, The White Lioness As book four opens, Wallander is still on sick leave, and has made the decision during a period of incredibly intense depression that he will not be continuing on in his career as a policeman But all of that changes when a friend seeks him out to ask him for help regarding the case of his father s death The police had ruled it a car accident, but the friend is convinced that it was not Wallander tells him that the police are most likely correct but then his friend is also mysteriously killed This prompts Wallander to return to the job to find out what lays behind the deaths of father and son and uncovers much than he bargained for While the plot will keep you turning pages and provide you with than a few tense moments, what really made this book stand out was the character of Kurt Wallander For the first time, really, since I started this series, I really got an insight into how Wallander thinks and what makes him a great cop Mankell s characterization of Wallander is absolutely stunning, making him much human in this book as compared to all of the other ones It was absolutely amazing to be allowed into Wallander s thought processes I think Wallander became very real for me in this book for the first time in the series When a character can become that real, it s definitely a sign that his or her creator is a top notch writer.The author does not only offer up a first rate criminal and first rate policemen here he also raises several questions about the future of police forces, about the decline of the whole basis of the modern Swedish state as the profits of corruption become entrenched, and about issues of morality the true nature of justice in a world where crime is constantly changing and the police and justice system are trying to adapt These questions are not relevant just to Sweden, but everywhere A bit on the gloomy side, this is not a book for readers looking for a lighthearted crime novel I d recommend it to anyone who wants a superb reading experience, but I suggest starting with book one, Faceless Killers, and continuing the books in series order Mankell is an excellent writer, definitely not to be missed. There are many book related things I could say about the fourth Wallander installment The Man Who Smiled Stuff about the excellent introduction of Ann Britt H glund and Wallander as a character and the breakneck pace and the way the BBC adaptation of this differed in good ways and bad But reading this particular book led me to a realization, and I d rather talk about that.I have often wondered why, even though I am compelled to read detective fiction which at its best still tends to see the world as black and white than I the genre fills me with anxiety and sadness The obvious answer is because terrible things happen in these books, and those things make me feel bad But that answer has never flown for me, and I rejected it the very first time I wondered why.I know the answer now, and it came to me in the final discussion between Dr Harderberg and Kurt Wallander You have to understand that selling human organs is but a tiny part of my activities It s negligible, marginal But it s what I do, Inspector Wallander I buy and sell I m an actor on the stage govered by market forces I never miss an opportunity, no matter how small and insignificant it is Human life is insignificant, then, Wallander thought That s the premise on which Harderberg s whole existence is based.And therein lies my anxiety and sadness I myself believe that human life is insignificant Or rather that human life is no or less significant that any other life, from microscopic bacteria to the smallest plant or insect to the largest and most complex of mammals All of it The whole shebang And that these books I read situate what I believe in the black side of their balck white outlook.Every killer I ve ever seen in every detective mystery serial killer book I ve ever read is written to believe the same thing The Man Who Smiled just happened to make it explicit in a revealing way , suggesting that people who believe that humanity is insignificant must be bastards, must be traitors to humanity, must be, in some way, depraved That stresses me out And it is just not true That belief in human insignificance or the lack of human superiority does not equal evil or wickedness or wrong Of course it can, but so can anything The truth is that people who believe these things are just as likely to love all life They are capable of great good too But I am faced daily by the fact that I am in an extreme minority It is harder for people to understand what I believe than it is for the religious majority to understand how the atheist minority can behave morally without the dictates of a god and that is a pretty serious misunderstanding, so imagine my despair.When I read a book by an author like Henning Mankell, I am faced with what makes me a societal outsider in the starkest of terms.Perhaps I should stop depressing and stressing myself, stop reading these stories, but I am compelled to continue reading them because I must remain engaged with the humanist majority, keeping the debate alive in my head If I don t, I ll tuck my head in my shell and desiccate in the desert heat. The opening of the fourth novel in this series finds Kurt Wallander in a deep depression At the conclusion of the last book, he shot a man to death, and even though it was clearly a case of self defense, he s devastated by the fact that he has taken another man s life After brooding over the incident for than a year, Wallander resolves to quit the police force and is at the point of turning in his papers when a very bizarre case grabs his attention.An elderly lawyer has died The reader knows right away that the man was murdered, but the murder is successfully disguised as an auto accident and fools the initial investigation The man s son, also a lawyer, makes a clandestine visit to Kurt Wallander, who is still recovering, and tries to convince him to investigate his father s death Wallander refuses and presses ahead with his intention to resign But then the son is murdered and Wallander determines to investigate He returns to the force, and quickly proves that the father s death was a homicide and not accident But trying to identify the killer will take all of Wallander s considerable skills that is, if he survives that long.This is another very good entry in the series The characters are fully developed the plot is engaging, and the police investigation seems very realistic Fans of the series will enjoy it and it should appeal to any fan of Scandinavian crime fiction Kurt Wallander is the polar opposite of someone like Lucas Davenport who could easily kill a couple of bad guys before breakfast and not worry about it any longer than lunch He s the prototypical Scandinavian detective introspective, depressed, and relatively humorless, which makes him an occasionally nice change of pace from his American counterparts. Book ReviewThe second review of two crime novels whose titles hint at laughter and joy, Mankell s novel The Man Who Smiled is in my opinion the best to date in the Wallander series In the first review, we discovered the significance of how morose Martin Beck finally came to emit a burst of laughter in the last paragraph of that novel The Laughing Policeman I find this significant Let s face it laughter, joy, humor, these are not exactly the words I would describe as pertinent to Nordic crime novels with the possible exception of Jussi Adler Olson s Department Q novels Granted, some of the humor is lost in tranlation, as Jo Nesbo recently stated in an interview here on Goodreads And as I mentioned in the Martin Beck novel of similar title, my reading these two novels in succession is entirely accidental It just so happened that I found myself reading two scandinavian crime novels whose titles revolved around laughter even though the titles were not part of my selection process at all I read series novels in succession, holding to the belief that authors who write series have a reason for doing so, and that one follows after the other especially in terms of ongoing character development and plot To read them out of sequence is to miss key aspects of the ongoing story line It s like arriving late to a meeting only to ask questions already discussed during one s absence And it just so happened that 4 in both of these series were next in my queue Do I think the similarity in titles between Per Maj and Mankell s 4th in the respective series are coincidental No, I do not I believe this novel is Mankell s homage to the 4th in the Beck series and that the title is deliberate.Even though I ve given this novel high ratings I do want to disclose something up front Throughout the novel I was puzzled by the notion of a policeman so distraught about having to use his service revolver one that ended up killing a criminal that he left his police career and wandered a beach for weeks on end in obvious emotional pain Clearly, any American policeman would frown at the notion Here the police is trained to use their weapon, and though counseling is offered for any rightuous shooting, most policemen here would not leave their jobs as a result of having used their weapon But, after some internal reflection I found that I, like our fictituous average American policeman, suffer from an ignorance of Scandinavia Cover of Singing Sands, a Tey novelbut what I imagine as Wallendar, walking across a lonely beach As we saw in my first review, we find that Kollberg in that Martin Beck novel is a hard core socialist, does not believe in guns and as a result doesn t carry one in his position as a police detective Perhaps back then, this was doable And certainly as a crime novel this tendency served to only accentuate violent crime and the apprehension of perpetrators for the purposes of writing a crime novel The Martin Beck novels were written some 50 years ago, when Scandinavia was relatively peaceful, non violent, and the countries did not suffer from later infiltration of crime families and consequent crimes that include gun smuggling, drugs and human trafficking, if not the threat of terrorism itself In his Wallander novels, Mankell clearly carries over some of these concepts from the Per and Maj novels, infusing into Wallander s character socialist tendencies though to a lesser degree even though these novels were written some 30 years later In general, most Scandinavian countries today are still known as benign, social democratic wellfare states Ystad, where most of the Wallander novels take place is still relatively peaceful, even though hints of organized crime that are already tangible in larger cities like Stockholm are beginning to filter down to smaller locales like Ystad Service revolvers in Ystad are often found in desk drawers, rather than on the detective s person when out investigating crime.Second, Wallander s character is such that facts are easily digested by this policeman, whereas emotional consequences are not unlike the Martin Beck series I relegate the cause for this to the writers themselves In the Martin Beck series, we have police procedurals written by Marxists Emotion is downgraded, social issues upgraded, statist policies encouraged as they are applied to the masses instead of to individuals and all of it accompanied by economic vitriol of anything that smacks of capitalism namely individual success and wealth are the result of greed Henning Mankell is not like Beck s authors in this regard Mankell is a humanitarian Aside from his career as a writer, his personal life is heavily involved with his emotional ties to disenfranchised third world countries Africa, mainly and his view of their inhabitants is one of indivduals, not the masses Henning Mankel is an emotional manand consequently, so is Wallander Firing his service pistol and killing another human being stands against everything both writer and protagonist represent Come to think of it high crimes, violence and a large portion of citizens incarcerated seems to be a peculiar American phenomenon and I m not sure how well that speaks of us as a so called free nation another discussion.As I said the coincidence in similar titles is no coincidence at all Aside from the similar title Per and Maj gave The Laughing Policeman, Mankell here gives us a phenomonal police procedural my first 5 star rating for a Wallander novel that revolves around the idea of wiping the smile off the face of a suspected criminal In the case of The Laughing Policeman laughter is a response to futility and exasperation In the case of The Man Who Smiled laughter when expressed as contempt for the disenfranchised must be wiped out Wallander is not a humerous man and he is not prone to laughter Scandinavia frowns rather than laughs at life Like Beck, he has trouble connecting to family Like Beck he is morose, cannot sleep, is lonely, and is often ill at ease with his colleagues Like the Beck novel we know who the perpetrator is early on The Man Who Smiled also speaks to a systemic dysfunction on police teams It speaks to the unenviable boredom and tediousness that incorporates a police team s daily work Unlike Beck, however, Wallander is driven by emotion by loyalty and compassion and outrage Series ReviewHenning Mankell is an internationally known Swedish crime writer known mostly for this fictional character Kurt Wallander He is married to Eva Bergman.Henning Mankell AuthorIt might be said that the fall of communism and the consequent increase in Swedish immigration and asylum seekers has been the engine that drives much of Swedish crime fiction Mankell s social conscience, his cool attitude towards nationalism and intolerance is largely a result of the writer s commitment to helping the disadvantaged see his theater work in Africa In this vein, readers might be interested in his stand alone novel Kennedy s Brain a thriller set in Africa and inspired by the AIDS epidemic Mankell often traveled to Africa to help third world populations or read his The Eye of the Leopard, a haunting novel juxtaposing a man s coming of age in Sweden and his life in Zambia Mankell s love of Africa, his theater work on that continent, and his exploits in helping the disadvantaged is not generally known by his American readers In fact, an international news story that has largely gone unnoticed is that while the world watched as Israeli soldiers captured ships attempting to break the Gaza blockade, few people are aware that among the prisoners of the Israelis was one of the world s most successful and acclaimed writers Henning Mankell It is no exaggeration when I say that Henning Mankell is by far one of the most successful writers in Scandinavia, especially in his own country of Sweden The Nordic weather, cold to the bones, drives its populace indoors for much of the year where cuddling up to read the latest in crime fiction is a national pastime.For many GR readers who have been introduced to Kurt Wallander it is interesting to note that ultimately the success of bringing Mankell to English speaking audiences only came after bringing in the same production company responsible for Steig Larsson s Millennium trilogy for the wildly popular BBC version starring Kenneth Branagh Viewers had no problem with an anglicized version of Mankell s work, an English speaking cast set down in a genuine Swedish countryside Of course, to those fans thoroughly familiar with Mankell s work, it is the Swedish televised version that is found to be a accurately portrayal of Mankell s novelsnot the British, sensationalized version And there s a reason for that.Henning s prose is straightforward, organized, written mostly in linear fashion, a straightforward contract with the reader It is largely quantified as police procedural work The work of men who are dogged and patient to a fault Kurt Wallander, the hero in Mankell s novels, is the alter ego of his creator a lonely man, a dogged policeman, a flawed hero, out of shape, suffering from headaches and diabetes, and possessing a scarred soul Understandably so and if some of the GR reviews are an indication like his famous father in law Ingmar Bergman, Mankell is from a country noted for its Nordic gloom But before you make the assumption that this is yet another addition to the somberness and darkness that characterizes Nordic writing Mankell often confounds this cliche with guarded optimism and passages crammed with humanity for Mankell, this is true both personally and professionally as a writer.As Americans we often think of Sweden as possessing an very open attitude towards sex and that this is in marked contrast or perhaps reprieve to the somber attitudes of its populace But this is a view that often confounds Swedish people The idea of Nordic carnality is notably absent in Mankell s work, as much a statement of its erroneous perception Swedes do not see themselves as part of any sexual revolution at all and in the case of Mankell ironic because the film director most responsible for advancing these explicit sexual parameters for his time was his own father in law the great Ingmar Bergman In a world where Bergman moves in a universe where characters are dark, violent, extreme and aggressive take note that the ultimate root of this bloody death and ennui lies in the Norse and Icelandic Viking sagas of Scandinavian history that dark, somber view ascribed to both Mankell and Bergman s work was often a topic of intense jovial interest between these two artists.For any reader of Nordic crime fiction, Henning Mankell is an immensely popular and staple read.Enjoy
Henning Mankell was an internationally known Swedish crime writer, children s author and playwright He was best known for his literary character Kurt Wallander.Mankell split his time between Sweden and Mozambique He was married to Eva Bergman, Swedish director and daughter of Ingmar Bergman.
- 325 pages
- Mannen som log
- Henning Mankell
- 22 January 2018 Henning Mankell