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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you go into the woods today...
I wasn't overjoyed when I discovered that Mankell's latest novel doesn't feature Inspector Kurt Wallander, but within a couple of chapters I'd forgotten all about Ystad's favourite detective and become fully engrossed in the dark forests of northern Sweden. Apart from Mankell's gripping plots - and this one is as good as any - it is his sense of place that makes his...
Published on 4 Nov 2003 by Amazon Customer

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Favoured author
Not his best in my view - or perhaps I have just read/watched too many Mankell stories. There so many other Scandinavian writers around - I particularly like Karin Fosse(? not sure about the name).
Published 19 months ago by Mrs Marion Harrison


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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you go into the woods today..., 4 Nov 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (Sussex) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I wasn't overjoyed when I discovered that Mankell's latest novel doesn't feature Inspector Kurt Wallander, but within a couple of chapters I'd forgotten all about Ystad's favourite detective and become fully engrossed in the dark forests of northern Sweden. Apart from Mankell's gripping plots - and this one is as good as any - it is his sense of place that makes his novels so compelling. I don't normally read crime fiction, but like writers like Henning Mankell and Ian Rankin because their well-written, intelligent novels transcend the genre. Prepare to be bleary-eyed in the morning, because this novel is very hard to put down.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps his best yet - absolutely gripping, 26 April 2004
By 
Androo (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
After so many Wallander novels, I wasn't sure I was going to like readingabout another detective, but you soon get to like Stefan Lindman who goesnorth to think about his mortality after being diagnosed with cancer andat the same time gets more involved in a murder investigation than heintends to.
This novel has all the usual Mankell hallmarks: grislymurders, down to earth detectives, and the landscape of Sweden.
The plot will keep you guessing until the very end. There are plenty ofblind alleys and a whole series of clues that only add together at thelast minute.
As usual, the plot gathers speed dramatically near theend, so you'll need to prepare a little time because once that happens,you won't be able to put it down.
The only mild disappointment is that the character of Lindman's girlfriendis rather underdeveloped, but it's fairly typical of Mankell toconcentrate heavily on his main character.
Overall, one of the best Henning Mankell novels I've read.
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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant crime thriller - dark, mordant and seductive, 17 Jan 2004
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I don't know what it is that has suddenly caused this rise in recognition of foreign writers, but it can only be a good thing. Jose Carlos Somoza, Boris Akunin, Karin Fossum, Carlo Lucarelli, and the Dark Wintry King of them all, Henning Mankell, who is increasingly a phenomena. His books fly off the shelves on mainland Europe, he's mobbed in the streets in his native Sweden, in Germany he apparently outsells J.K. Rowling (it's about time someone did), and half-Swedish Ruth Rendell has taken the trouble to read all the novels in their original language, admiring the fascinating procedural detail, which is just one of Mankell's strengths. He never shies from portraying the dull of aspects of routine police-work, but somehow manages to put such a spin on them as to make them interesting. And although The Return of the Dancing Master is a departure from his ever-better Kurt Wallander series - although it may as well not be, for how similar and ominously gloomy the two different protagonists are, it is just as excellent, and probably even better.
Retired policeman Herbert Molin lives a hermetic existence in a lonely house in the middle of a North-Sweden forest. Whatever he's hiding from, he's eluded it for 11 years, occupying himself with his fears, his jigsaw puzzles, and his dancing. Then, one day he is found beaten and lashed, lying dead in the snow on the edge of the wood. In his house, bloody footprints pattern the floor, marking out the steps of his favourite dance, the tango.
When Stefan Lindman, on sick-leave and obsessed with death having recently been diagnosed with cancer, reads of his old colleagues murder, he ventures north to the forests of Molin's retreat in order to try and find out more about who killed him, and in doing so places himself into a bleak investigation that stretches itself back to the evil acts of the second world war, and forces him to confront uncomfortable truths about his modern-day Sweden.
I can well see how Mankell's books, this one in particular, may not be suited to all. The Return of the Dancing Master - this title has quickly jumped to the top of my "Favourite Book Titles" list - is a dark, bleak and intense book with a heavy, dark atmosphere. There is little sunlight to be glimpsed anywhere, literally or metaphorically. So this is not for people who like their fiction light and happy, but more melancholy and affecting.
Sweden is evoked brilliantly, which is important as setting is one of the three necessary factors required in order to make a crime book effective, the other two being plot and character, where Mankell succeeds as well. The vast lonely forests of Northern Sweden contribute effectively to the bleakness (as you can tell, "bleak" is very much a watch-word here) of the book, and it is clear that Mankell has a very good handle on his country, and although is fond of it, shows us the things which worry him about modern Sweden, which he has said he thinks is a "pretty average" society. Here we are treated to bigotry, racism and neo-Nazism in pretty heavy doses, which makes for some disturbing scenes, and along with the atmosphere and the morbidity-obsessed lead character, it all correlates into a pretty dark book. Dark but brilliant, though. Mankell is an incredibly powerful writer, and that gift is on display here right from the beginning. The prologue gives us a vision of the executions of Nazi war criminals in 1945, and then in the first chapter we read terrified yet gripped by the throat as a scared, lonely old man's isolated home is assaulted in the dark, the windows shot out and he himself slaughtered.
The Return of the Dancing Master is bleak, yes, but it is fascinating, chilling, with the traditional flawed-hero (just what IS it about these kinds of people???) and it's refreshingly unformulaic. The plot is not once predictable, and constantly shifts beneath the reader to create a kind of gutsy suspense and a great pace. It's not quite perfect (there are a couple of kinks in the translation, I think, but that's forgivable) but apart from that it nearly is! A dark, excellent story by an incredibly talented writer, and I am absolutely sure that this will end up as one of my favourite reads of the year. If you want to try Mankell, start here. Whatever the price, the experience of this is well-worth it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return of the Dancing Master, 3 Feb 2009
By 
Having been introduced to Henning Mankell by the BBC dramatization of some of his books, I wanted to experience his writing and was not disappointed. In my opinion a book always beats a film interpretation of a well constructed book and this is no exception. Great atmosphere and psychology of country and people is created by skilful and restrained use of language. I have now bought several more of the Wallander books and am waiting for an opportunity to get started on them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brooding isolation, 10 April 2007
By 
I have now read two of Henning Mankell's novels, 'One Step Behind' and 'The Return of the Dancing Master'. They have a distinctive style which features remoteness, illness and a sense of mystery. When one reads these books, one can imagine that one is actually in a remote corner of Sweden. These books will probably appeal to people who like isolation. As far as the detective element is concerned, there is a great deal of repetition, but this helps the reader to feel as though he is actually living in the situation. It makes the reader want to learn more. It keeps the reader in suspense.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant - again, 4 July 2010
By 
R. Harris "rjh" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Return Of The Dancing Master (Paperback)
No need for a review when it gets this good - simply more of the same high suspense, brilliant story line all coupled with decent prose.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Wallander, 9 Oct 2009
By 
AJ (South Wales) - See all my reviews
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Although I enjoyed a number of Mankell's Wallander books, I never really connected with the character and felt that great plots were overloaded with police procedure. The main character in this novel is Stefan Lindman. If, like me, you enjoyed the Swedish TV Series, shown recently on BBC4 - he's the cocky and sometimes obnoxious one who has a short relationship with Linda Wallander.
In this novel, Lindman's on sick leave and so his investigation role is very much as an outsider involving himself [generally with support] in another force's case. There's consequently less police procedure in this novel and a good backstory about Stefan, making it a more enjoyable read. In essence everything good about the Wallander novels with a scaled down police process.
An excellent novel.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - dark, mordant and seductive, 3 April 2004
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I don't know what it is that has suddenly caused this rise in recognition of foreign writers, but it can only be a good thing. Jose Carlos Somoza, Boris Akunin, Karin Fossum, Carlo Lucarelli, and the Dark Wintry King of them all, Henning Mankell, who is increasingly a phenomena. His books fly off the shelves on mainland Europe, he's mobbed in the streets in his native Sweden, in Germany he apparently outsells J.K. Rowling (it's about time someone did), and half-Swedish Ruth Rendell has taken the trouble to read all the novels in their original language, admiring the fascinating procedural detail, which is just one of Mankell's strengths. He never shies from portraying the dull of aspects of routine police-work, but somehow manages to put such a spin on them as to make them interesting. And although The Return of the Dancing Master is a departure from his ever-better Kurt Wallander series - although it may as well not be, for how similar and ominously gloomy the two different protagonists are, it is just as excellent, and probably even better.
Retired policeman Herbert Molin lives a hermetic existence in a lonely house in the middle of a North-Sweden forest. Whatever he's hiding from, he's eluded it for 11 years, occupying himself with his fears, his jigsaw puzzles, and his dancing. Then, one day he is found beaten and lashed, lying dead in the snow on the edge of the wood. In his house, bloody footprints pattern the floor, marking out the steps of his favourite dance, the tango.
When Stefan Lindman, on sick-leave and obsessed with death having recently been diagnosed with cancer, reads of his old colleagues murder, he ventures north to the forests of Molin's retreat in order to try and find out more about who killed him, and in doing so places himself into a bleak investigation that stretches itself back to the evil acts of the second world war, and forces him to confront uncomfortable truths about his modern-day Sweden.
I can well see how Mankell's books, this one in particular, may not be suited to all. The Return of the Dancing Master - this title has quickly jumped to the top of my "Favourite Book Titles" list - is a dark, bleak and intense book with a heavy, dark atmosphere. There is little sunlight to be glimpsed anywhere, literally or metaphorically. So this is not for people who like their fiction light and happy, but more melancholy and affecting.
Sweden is evoked brilliantly, which is important as setting is one of the three necessary factors required in order to make a crime book effective, the other two being plot and character, where Mankell succeeds as well. The vast lonely forests of Northern Sweden contribute effectively to the bleakness (as you can tell, "bleak" is very much a watch-word here) of the book, and it is clear that Mankell has a very good handle on his country, and although is fond of it, shows us the things which worry him about modern Sweden, which he has said he thinks is a "pretty average" society. Here we are treated to bigotry, racism and neo-Nazism in pretty heavy doses, which makes for some disturbing scenes, and along with the atmosphere and the morbidity-obsessed lead character, it all correlates into a pretty dark book. Dark but brilliant, though. Mankell is an incredibly powerful writer, and that gift is on display here right from the beginning. The prologue gives us a vision of the executions of Nazi war criminals in 1945, and then in the first chapter we read terrified yet gripped by the throat as a scared, lonely old man's isolated home is assaulted in the dark, the windows shot out and he himself slaughtered.
The Return of the Dancing Master is bleak, yes, but it is fascinating, chilling, with the traditional flawed-hero (just what IS it about these kinds of people???) and it's refreshingly unformulaic. The plot is not once predictable, and constantly shifts beneath the reader to create a kind of gutsy suspense and a great pace. It's not quite perfect (there are a couple of kinks in the translation, I think, but that's forgivable) but apart from that it nearly is! A dark, excellent story by an incredibly talented writer, and I am absolutely sure that this will end up as one of my favourite reads of the year. If you want to try Mankell, start here. Whatever the price, the experience of this is well-worth it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book shame no one proof read the Kindle Edition, 7 Nov 2010
As ever a great book from Henning Mankell, but this Kindle editon is one of the worst for annoying spelling mistakes. The most frequent of these is Borås, the town Stefan is from, reprinted as Boris -does no one check these things before release??
It's not the end of the world but it does take you out of the story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbe dark atmospheric, 27 Aug 2010
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This review is from: The Return Of The Dancing Master (Paperback)
Not a Wallander book - but something more disturbing
still the country side follows you and makes itself part of the story
Absolutly fantastic
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The Return Of The Dancing Master
The Return Of The Dancing Master by Henning Mankell (Paperback - 28 May 2009)
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