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The Man from Beijing Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 16, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A massacre in the remote Swedish village of Hesjövallen propels this complex, if diffuse, stand-alone thriller from Mankell (The Pyramid). Judge Birgitta Roslin, whose mother grew up in the village, comes across diaries from the house of one of the 19 mostly elderly victims kept by Jan Andrén, an immigrant ancestor of Roslin's. The diaries cover Andrén's time as a foreman on the building of the transcontinental railroad in the United States. An extended flashback charts the journey of a railroad worker, San, who was kidnapped in China and shipped to America in 1863. After finding evidence linking a mysterious Chinese man to the Hesjövallen murders, Roslin travels to Beijing, suspecting that the motive for the horrific crime is rooted in the past. While each section, ranging in setting from the bleak frozen landscape of northern Sweden to modern-day China bursting onto the global playing field, compels, the parts don't add up to a fully satisfying whole. Author tour. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics generally agree that Mankell's stand-alone thriller--a combination of police procedural and geopolitical novel--lives up to the best of the Kurt Wallander series. Piercing into its inquiries into corruption, revenge, as well as imperialism, Communism, racism, and other evil "isms," The Man from Beijing reaches for deeper truths about humanity and largely succeeds. Some reviewers identified a few missteps, with the Spectator criticizing the wandering narrative and polemical tone. But in the end, the novel just may, as the Los Angeles Times noted, "cement Mankell's reputation as Sweden's greatest living mystery writer."

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You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (February 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307271862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307271860
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (298 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #836,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

191 of 203 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on February 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although this quotation of Chairman Mao's is not to be found in Henning Mankell's The Man from Beijing the book is filled with politics and bloodshed.

I've enjoyed Henning Mankell's Inspector Kurt Wallander series and have read most of the books in that series. With that in mind, I turned to Mankell's newest book The Man from Beijing with great interest. This is a stand-alone book not connected with the series. The Man from Beijing was well worth reading even if didn't quite live up to my admittedly high expectations.

High Points

Mankell has put together an entertaining plot. Nineteen people have been brutally murdered in a remote village in Sweden. The opening scenes are set out in terse matter-of-fact manner that accentuates the horrors being described. It soon becomes apparent to Birgitta Roslin, a middle-aged judge in the city of Helsingborg, that she has ancestral ties to the village. Slowly but surely Roslin becomes ensnared in the subsequent investigation of the crime. The story moves across the world from Sweden to China, to Africa and then back to Sweden. Mankell does a very good job keeping the story line moving forward. His writing style is well-suited to this type of story. He is not effusive and he does not waste words. He sets a scene well and I found it hard to put the book down.

In both his Inspector Wallander series and in The Man from Beijing Mankell does a terrific job in placing a story in the context of the world around us. He does not write within the bubble of a genre but writes as if the story really is taking place in the world outside. As I read the chapters set in China and Africa, I got the feeling that in this regard Mankell shares some literary DNA with John le Carre, particularly le Carre's later works.
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73 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Isch TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This stand-alone novel from the acclaimed Swedish creator of the popular Wallander detective novels (that have also been filmed in an excellent series starring Kenneth Branagh) tells the tale of a horrific crime, a truly fiendish and frightening killer and a middle-aged judge who believes the police have it all wrong and sets out to solve it on her own. The writing is crisp and well paced and downright riveting for the first two-thirds of the book, although one does tend to wonder a bit about all the coincidences it takes to keep things moving along.

Then, at around a hundred or so pages from the end, the story suddenly veers off into an examination of the politics, conflicts and corruption connected to China's rise to superpower status. A long side trip into Africa--which it appears China is trying to turn into a satellite continent where it can dump its poor and potentially rebellious peasants and ensure there'll never be another Tiananmen Square, and where we're also given to believe that Zimbabwe's dictator Mugabe is nowhere near as bad a bad guy as we in the west have been led to believe--becomes a long and largely disruptive diversion from the main story.

By the time the author shifts gears again and gets back to Sweden and the crime at the heart of his novel, the story has gotten so far off course that it just sort of flounders its way to an unsatisfying ending, with way too many strings left loose. 3.5 stars.
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132 of 151 people found the following review helpful By David Field VINE VOICE on February 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You can understand how Sweden has above-average rates for alcoholism and suicide, if Henning Mankell's book descriptions are typical of the country. Most of the time his scenery is covered in snow, cold and drear. Urban scenes have relentless sodium-vapor lighting, and he rarely remarks on how beautiful the country can be.

Obviously, he deals with crime, and you can't be sentimental, especially in this case, where there are nineteen dead bodies, brutally killed, in a hamlet of old people. The description is clearly expressed, with little place for any emotions. It seems that the killer had intended for the victims to die in painful ways, often in front of each other.

While the local police struggle to find clues or a motive, the case attracts the attention of Birgitta Roslin, a district judge in the city of Helsingborg, who realizes that she is distantly related to some of the victims. She visits the scene of the crime and runs across the attention of the local police, who are understandably unwilling to let someone, even a judge, dig around the hamlet. What Birgitta does find is a diary kept in a drawer, written in the mid- to late-eighteen hundreds, by one of her ancestors who went to the U.S.A. to be in charge of the Chinese workers building the transcontinental railroad.

From this Birgitta realizes that the motive for the murders may have come from the descendants of the Chinese workers to avenge the way they were treated. We read the story of two of them and their mistreatment by Jan Andren who ruled the Chinese with a rod of iron and was known as Mr. JA. One of the Chinese develops a hatred for Mr. JA and swears that he will "Kill that man when the time is right." In the meantime they are forced to work on the railroad track in the snow-covered mountains.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Diane Mooney on March 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Although I'm always will to suspend disbelief for a good mystery, the plot of the The Man from Beijing was so nonsensical I found suspension impossible. The main character goes blundering around for no real reason other than to further the plot. She stumbles over coincidence after coincidence while waxing nostaligc about wanting to join the Red Guard in the 60's.

The reason for the book's horrific murders is weak at best. And the information about China is not always correct. The Chinese were not melting forks in backyard smelters during the Great Leap Forward. They don't use forks.
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