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Sidetracked: A Kurt Wallander Mystery (Kurt Wallander Mysteries) Hardcover – June 1, 1999

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Product Details

  • Series: Kurt Wallander Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 349 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565845072
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565845077
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,485,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Told from the perspectives of both cop and criminal, Mankell's third Kurt Wallander mystery revolves around the veteran Swedish inspector's search for a savage serial killer who scalps his victims after delivering a fatal hatchet blow. The novel opens as Wallander is called to a farmer's field, where he helplessly witnesses a teenage girl's self-immolation. The suicide unsettles the inspector, who can't understand why someone so young would kill herself. As the police try to identify the young woman, the serial killer's first victim, a former justice minister, is discovered on a beach in a wealthy neighborhood. Three more people are found murdered and scalped, and other signs of violence suggest that the perpetrator is becoming increasingly agitated. Following standard procedure, Wallander and his crew try to link the four victims, all male, a difficult task because their lives never seem to have intersected. Using American profiling methods as well as his own intuition, Wallander struggles to make headway in the case. What he doesn't consider, and what readers know, is that the murderer isn't a man but a boy, who hopes to revive his catatonic sister by the ritual presentation of the scalps. Mankell's meticulously detailed descriptions of the inspector's investigationAand his often lyrical portrayal of Wallander's struggle to rearrange his thought processes in order to catch the criminalAare masterful. The author's treatment of modern themes such as juvenile killers and broken families adds richness to what is essentially a straightforward police procedural. But above all, the novel stands out for its nuanced evocation of even the peripheral characters. Winner of Sweden's 1997 Best Crime Novel of the Year, this is another terrific offering from the talented Mankell.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A young girl spends a day almost catatonic in an isolated farm field, then immolates herself. Sweden's retired minister of justiceAa man with a pornographic interest in young girlsAtakes his usual evening walk on the beach and meets a murderer's axe. With these possibly connected cases on his plate, series policeman Kurt Wallander (Faceless Killers, LJ 12/96) and his team interrupt their personal agendas to identify the girl, expose unsavory personal/political secrets, and deal with the subsequent connected murder of an art dealer. Full of emotion yet cleanly written, apparently straightforward yet fraught with intriguing revelations, Mankell's latest mystery is strongly recommended.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander mysteries are global bestsellers and have been adapted for television as a BAFTA Award-winning BBC series starring Kenneth Branagh. Mankell was awarded the Crime Writers' Association's Macallan Gold Dagger and the German Tolerance Prize, among many others. He divides his time between Sweden and Mozambique.

Customer Reviews

I'm really enjoying these books and highly recommend them.
Melissa Sutherland
By-the-way, this was my first book I read on my Kindle and I absolutely loved the experience.
Thad Maloney
The stories are well plotted with good characterization and an interesting central character.
R. Albin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Linda Oskam on February 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Inspector Kurt Wallander of the Ystad police force in south Sweden has to solve his most challenging murder case yet: somebody is killing off elderly men using an axe to split their skulls and scalping them afterwards. It is clear that the killer is meticulously preparing his killings, staking out the victims and making sure nobody sees him. The team of policemen and -women seems to be always one step behind and even the profiler that has come to help them has problems coming up with a good profile of the killer.

What makes this book special is that the reader also gets the perspective of the killer: it soon becomes clear who he is and why he does what he is doing. This could be a major handicap as the book may loose most of its excitement of the "whodunnit", but here this is not the case. This is mainly due to the fact that Kurt Wallander is a full-fetched character with good and bad traits, doubts, hypochondric moments and moments of sudden,clear insight, making it a pleasure to follow how, in the end, he solves the case.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Aleksandra Nita-Lazar on June 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
In "Sidetracked" Mankell is at his very best as a crime writer. The story starts as two completely unrelated events: the girl setting herself on fire and the murder of the former Swedish minister of justice. The second one, which turns out to be the beginning of a series is, of course, the matter of utmost priority for the police, so Wallander has to work hard before his planned holidays. However, he cannot let the girl in flames get out of his memory...

The reader gets more clues than the police and therefore knows the identity of the killer faster, which allows for concentrating on the work of the team of detectives. Their reasoning can be followed easily, showing differences in approach based on personality and attitude. The psychological side is very important for Mankell, here he brings for the first time the psychologist who helps make the portrait of the killer.

The political background of Sweden plays, as usual, a significant role, and the downsides of the system are shown as well as its advantages.

Henning Mankell's detective stories get only better as he goes. This is a gem of the genre. Absolutely recommended for the fans of crime fiction.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Britt Breu on August 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
After reading a German translation of the original Swedish version of "Sidetracked" by Henning Mankell, I was enthralled by the complexity of the plot and of the main character, Kurt Wallander. Reading this book(my first by Mankell), my apppetite to continue reading his books grew steadily. I had never been a fan of niether murder mysteries nor detective novels, but this book really changed my mind. I highly recommend this to any reader.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the best of the four Inspector Kurt Wallender police procedurals I've read so far. No secret excursions across the Baltic, no geopolitical-racial thrillers. Just a solidly professional, sometimes uncertain, often brilliant, but always persistent detective plowing through disparate evidence to catch a serial killer. The title is important, too -- even a good, widely experienced cop can be led astray. "The first thing that happens isn't necessarily the beginning of the case," or words to that effect. Wallender is a fascinating character, and very human, too. He worries about his relationships with his father and his daughter, feels slightly guilty pleasure when his superiors compliment him, gets scared when he thinks he or those close to him are physically threatened. He even has vaguely erotic dreams about a female pastor he meets in the course of the investigation. But always, after spending an hour with his own bugbears, he shifts gears and becomes a cop again, and a good one. He's a loner who can organize and lead a crack investigative team, an anti-bureaucrat who knows how to orchestrate a productive meeting, a logical rationalist who always listens to his hunches. And even though you'll know pretty early who the killer is in this case, you'll hold your breath every time Wallender unknowingly comes near him. A terrific story.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Sidetracked was first published in Sweden in 1995, and now with Steven T. Murray's able translation, the United States audience will be able to read this Scandinavian thriller/murder mystery. Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series is very popular in Europe, and Sidetracked won the Best Crime Novel of the Year award there. Sidetracked is the third Kurt Wallander mystery, following Faceless Killers and The White Lioness. Mankell currently lives in exotic Mozambique. Inspector Kurt Wallander works at the police station in Ystad Sweden. He is divorced, ready to go on vacation with his girlfriend Baiba, and is undergoing the uncertainty of a new police chief, possible reorganization of his department, and a rising caseload. His nightmare begins with the suicide of an unknown girl in a farmer's rapeseed field: "Afterward Wallander would remember the burning girl in the rapeseed field the way you remember, with the greatest reluctance, a distant nightmare you'd rather forget. Even though he seemed to maintain at least an outward sense of calm for the entire evening and far into the night, later he could recall nothing but irrelevant details. Martinsson, Hansson, and especially Ann-Britt Höglund had been astonished by his impassiveness. But they couldn't see through the shield he had set up to protect himself. Inside him there was devastation like a house that had collapsed." Wallander's life becomes more complicated as a series of brutal axe murders surface. The motis operandi is basically the same, but with subtle differences. Wallander becomes obsessed with stopping the murderer and at the same time identifying the poor girl who had appeared in the rapeseed field and killed herself in such pain.Read more ›
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