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The Man Who Smiled: Kurt Wallander Hardcover – 1 Sep 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press; First Edition edition (1 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843430983
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843430988
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 520,121 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

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 88 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Sept. 2005
Format: Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 5 May 2006
Format: Hardcover
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 By Gonetomorrow on 8 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
Mankell does not do action well. In fact there is very little action in this book - much of the text being taken up with introspective stuff about the value and point of the case - a sort of internal management meeting thing. I kept saying Get On With It!

There are some tiresome elements. Wallander keeps withholding information from his colleagues. Knowing that he is being watched by the hoods he takes liberties with his own safety merely by operating on his own so much. The putting in of a young spy - Sophie - is a cavalier move that I doubt would be made in similar circumstances. We only get to see the most charismatic character - Harderburg - on two occasions.

The final few pages of this book are frankly a bit farcical as our man decides to take on the baddies Rambo-style and the airport runway scene is Keystone Cops stuff. It's most unconvincing and rather a shame. I think the popularity of the Wallander series lies largely in the vulnerability of the hero and his bleak personal life. Some of that is moving. In the realm of police procedural, however, Mankell cannot hold a candle to several other authors.

Do you ever get the feeling that an author got bored and hurried up the denoument? That's what happened here. I like the style of Mankell's writing (or the translation of it) but I'll get my kicks somewhere else in future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Mazumder on 10 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
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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