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The Man Who Smiled: Kurt Wallander [Hardcover]

Henning Mankell , Laurie Thompson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Sep 2005 Kurt Wallander (Book 4)
Crestfallen, dejected and spiralling into an alcohol-fuelled depression after killing a man in the line of duty, Inspector Kurt Wallander has made up his mind to quit the police force for good. When an old acquaintance, a solicitor, seeks Wallander's help to investigate the suspicious circumstances in which his father has died, Kurt doesn't want to know. But when the solicitor also turns up dead, shot three times, Wallander realises that he was wrong not to listen. Against his better judgment, he returns to work to head what may now have become a double murder case. A rookie female detective has joined the force is his absence, and he adopts the role of mentor to her as they fight to unravel the mystery. An enigmatic big-business tycoon, who hides behind an entourage of brusque secretaries and tight security, seems to be the common denominator in the two deaths. But while Wallander is on the trail of the killer, somebody is on the trail of Wallander, and closing in fast. (2004-10-21)

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The Man Who Smiled: Kurt Wallander + Sidetracked: Kurt Wallander + One Step Behind: Kurt Wallander
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press; First Edition edition (1 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843430983
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843430988
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.4 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 538,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henning Mankell has become a worldwide phenomenon with his crime writing, gripping thrillers and atmospheric novels set in Africa. His prize-winning and critically acclaimed Inspector Wallander Mysteries are currently dominating bestseller lists all over the globe. His books have been translated into over forty languages and made into numerous international film and television adaptations: most recently the BAFTA-award-winning BBC television series Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh. Mankell devotes much of his free time to working with Aids charities in Africa, where he is also director of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo.

In 2008, the University of St Andrews conferred Henning Mankell with an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of his major contribution to literature and to the practical exercise of conscience.

Product Description


Rather in the way that Dire Straits were the Trojan horse that kickstarted the CD industry, Mankell's novels became the standard bearer for foreign crime in translation...the writer is a man of rare skills...Plotting here is as impeccable as ever... (Barry Forshaw Daily Express 2005-09-23)

'one of his best' (Times 2005-09-24)

Book Description

A disillusioned Inspector Kurt Wallander is thrown back into the fray when he becomes both hunter and hunted in this adventure from the pen of Sweden's master of crime and mystery. (2004-10-21)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
85 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Smiled, Henning Mankell 15 Sep 2005
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
Mankell has become the author that every new European crime writer is compared to. He's the benchmark, he sets the standard. And justly so. His brand of intense, detail based procedural is probably unrivalled in its accurate picture of police-work. Certainly, I've never read a more compelling version of the hard, repetitive slug of investigation than his.
This novel is the final Wallander novel to be translated (even though we've already had the real "final" Wallander novel, and the first that features his daughter's induction to the police-force), though only the fourth that Mankell actually penned. Standing where it does in the series it is also possibly the first Great Wallander novel. The three which go before are good, but it it's with The Man Who Smiled that the series takes off. Readers new to Mankell now have the benefit of being able to read them in their proper order.
The Man Who Smiled opens with a disillusioned Wallander wandering day in day out along a misty Danish beach, riven with melancholy after killing a man in the line of duty (see the previous novel, The White Lioness). Only when he finally makes up his mind to retire does he return home to Ystad. However, when he gets there, disturbing news awaits him. An old friend of his, solicitor Sten Torstenson, has been killed in his office, shot three times. Wallander would think nothing of it - the official train of thought is some kind of break-in - but for the fact that Sten had tried to contact him while he was away. Sten was convinced that his father Gustav's death - his car overturned on a deserted, foggy road - was no accident. His father was a cautious driver, and would never have driven in fog. Too, in the weeks before his death Gustav seemed very worried about something he was keeping hidden from his son.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loses the plot 21 Mar 2013
This is a pretty good Wallander - well it is to start with then goes downhill.

The tension builds well from the start: Wallendar on extended sick leave is contacted in Denmark by a lawyer acquaintance who wants Wallander to look into what was worrying his father (recently killed in car accident). Then the lawyer is shot dead in his office, Wallander suspects that the car crash was no accident, a mine is planted in the garden of the lawyer's secretary, and even Wallander's car is booby-trapped.

What is going on? Well the finger seems to point to a reclusive mega-rich financier who lives nearby in a castle.

Then it starts to get silly. Despite knowing that there are ruthless mercenaries guarding the place Wallander sends in a stable girl as a sort of spy, and later persuades the security guard to spy as well. Even more ludicrous Wallander himself (unauthorised and alone) breaks in and attempts to do it all himself. Miraculously he survives somehow, and even manages to pursue the baddy to the airport and prevent him escaping.

Real Action Man stuff, not bad for an overweight 50ish man in poor health.

I vaguely remember the BBC version of this. They altered the story (of course) but for the better. It concentrated on the trade in body parts (only marginal in the book) and made the whole thing more coherent and credible.

Worth reading but prepare to be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars wallander has to plod on, as usual 5 May 2006
This is one of inspector Wallander's novels, and as likable as any of them. In my opinion it's not the best (it's nearly impossible to mantain even a record as Mankell's) but as always very interesting.

This time Wallander has to deal with a powerful millonaire, one of today's self-made-men who don't give a damm about any moral value. This man, who has become rich initially through legal business and progressively more and more so through the usual nowaday's mask of deception, financial engineering, donations to charity, risky investments and sheer crime. The strange death of an inconspicuous attorney brings Wallander back from his depressive breakdown and makes him interested in this suspicious client.

Wallander does not know how to deal with this kind of suspect, is not prepared to deal with personal secretaries, private jets, security personnel and so on.

Mankell paints in his novel portraits of then new Swedish society, in which old conventions and social patterns decay, fall away swept by money, new morals (or lack of them)and general disorientation.

Besides, Wallander himself is NOT a likable character at first read: his life is monotonous, boring, he is fat, about fifty, eats rubbish, he is not even witty or daring, and he doesn''t have any love affair. He is just a good policeman with personal problems.

This is what makes Mankell's novels so likable: they are a chip of European modern life, or a warning of what is or may come.

Enjoy it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Real 10 Oct 2006
Those new to the Kurt Wallander series need not even begin if they're looking for a glorified cop-and-robber chase with dramatic twists and turns that are unbelievable. With Henning Mankell's novels, we get a look at police investigative work in a realistic way, and that's what makes his books so good.

In 'The Man Who Smiled', Detective Wallander has just returned to work after a year's leave, and he is thrown straight into a case involving one of his own friends and his father. What ensues is a chase which leads him to a chilling yet unlikely suspect.

What I find most enjoyable about this book is the details of the investigation itself. Mankell makes you feel like you're one of the detectives at the police meetings and that you're trying to join the effort too. And the frustration that the reader feels when the investigative team is struggling is almost real and certainly tangible. This shows how effective a write Mankell is.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Scandinavian Crime
As good as usual. The normal fare from Henning Mankell, if you like Scandinavian crime then this is it at its best
Published 4 days ago by grumpya
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good plot but a disappointing ending.
Published 13 days ago by stephanie cruddace
5.0 out of 5 stars I like ALL these people
I like ALL these people, even the cruddy things they do .. Kurt is REAL and that makes it worth re-reading
Published 18 days ago by Wendell Jay Garwood
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Published 22 days ago by richard holder
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
He is a great writer and his character is fantastic. A fascinating story, beautifully written.
Published 28 days ago by Speig
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Smiled
Excellent book and I enjoyed reading it. It was so good I didn't want to put it down.
Published 1 month ago by Norman Lucy
3.0 out of 5 stars At times implausible
This slow 1994 thriller sees the return to work of chief inspector Kurt Wallanger (KW), 49, after a lengthy medical leave. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
edge of the seat stuff
Published 2 months ago by Mrs J.S. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars The man who smiled.
This book was indeed a thriller which I found difficult to put down. Its varied strands leading to an exciting conclusion were very cleverly woven. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ms. E. Simpson
4.0 out of 5 stars this series just gets better
Have read the books in order and this was the best yet. The way the tension builds makes it a real page turner - but then I thought the ending seemed a little rushed - the final... Read more
Published 6 months ago by T. C. Evans
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