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The Man Who Smiled (Kurt Wallander Series) Paperback – September 25, 2007
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain:
At least I 'm sure it may be so in Denmark." Hamlet.
And I'm sure, after reading Henning Mankell's "The Man Who Smiled", that it may be so in Sweden as well.
"The Man Who Smiled" is the fourth book in the popular Inspector Kurt Wallander mystery series. An aging attorney has been found dead on a desolate strip of road. The local police think it is an accident brought about by the dense fog that surrounded the area that night. The man's son, also an attorney, seeks out is friend Kurt Wallander to ask for help. He thinks his father has been murdered. Wallander isn't really interested. He'd killed a man in the line of duty and has been on leave ever since. He has no taste for police work, is loaded up with antidepressants and drinks to excess. But when his friend is found murdered, the same guilt that drove Wallander away from police work compels him to return to help solve the murder of the friend and what may be the murder of the friend's father.
As Wallander returns to work he finds himself thinking that one of Sweden's richest men may have some part in the murders. He is very rich and very powerful. So powerful that he can afford to keep a smile affixed to his permanently suntanned face. It is a smile of condescension and smugness. It is a smile that says "I am untouchable." Wallander battles to put his life back together while he struggles to put together the pieces of a very complex crime puzzle.
Mankell's Kurt Wallander series is often compared to the Martin Beck detective mysteries authored by the husband and wife team of Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall. Wallander, like Beck, is a police detective in Sweden.Read more ›
But there were other problems, as noted by some of the other reviewers. The lead up to the conclusion was too forced and strained credulity. The fact that Wallander would remain inside the mansion without calling for backup at any point did not make sense, likewise his partner's delay in calling for help herself. Also, the idea of a supremely wealthy man would utilize a land mine to murder a potentially troublesome witness seemed quite ludicrous to me. The bad guy, Harderberg, was also a big disppointment: extremely two dimensional and flat. The attempt to make him seem aloof by affixing a permanent smile to his face only added to the sense that he was more pastiche that person. It was as though Mankell had taken the attributes of several other characters and decided to utilize the most superficial of each. His language was stilted and pure cliche. This could also have been a result of the not so good translation.
For all of this, I read the novel to the end. Mankell is great at creating a dark and drizzly world where his characters try and figure out who they are, which at the same time trying to solve a crime. Wallander is a great character, flawed and human and consistent from one novel the the next.
I thank fellow reviewer Leonard Fleisig for bringing this author to my attention. The writing is simply superb, and I am very interested in reading more books by the same author.
As done by Len, I gave the book 4 stars. I thought that "The Man Who Smiled" was a good book until near the end. Up to that point I thought that Mankell was doing a great job with the novel. The novel reminded me a bit of the Peter Robinson Inspector Banks series, but here the policeman is more involved; actually, he becomes too involved and that is what slightly spoils the book.
The book opens with a map of southern Sweden, and a second map of the town of Ystad. The latter is the primary setting, although the crimes are spread around the southern part of Sweden in this novel. The police station is located in Ystad, near the most southerly part of Sweden, south and east of Malmo, and on the Baltic. Malmo itself is just 10 km across water from Copenhagen. Part of the tale takes place in Denmark.
I will not give away the plot and the essential plot elements are outlined by the publisher: a police inspector on a stress leave is drawn back to work by the murder of a friend. The policeman, Kurt Wallender, takes a personal interest in the death of two lawyers, one who he knew professionally, and who had approached him about a case a week before his death.
This is a great and a fast read that I was able to read with a great deal of enjoyment in less than a day.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is another skillfully written mystery about the murder of two lawyers and attempted murder of others, including Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Dolphin Totem
My last Kurt Wallender book! I miss him already. While The weather "reports" become almost comical, the main characters as well as incidental characters do not disappoint. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Pamela Stewart
come nearly impossible odds. This is my fifth Wallender and I'm going to read them all. Maxwell has a gift for plain writing and realismPublished 8 days ago by My father was a Cop
All Henning Mankell's books I have read are very interestingPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Another well written book in the Kurt Wallander series. Gripping from beginning to end.Published 1 month ago by Nature Lover2
Pretty soon you don't want to put it down. The evolution pouts Kurt is fascinating through the story. When the time.Published 1 month ago by JRock
Suspenseful and intriguing throughout. Ending wrapped up abruptly, like most Wallander mysteries, almost anticlimactic. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Elizabeth VanArragon