Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars116
4.1 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£8.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 6 April 2014
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 chapter or so didn't have the same meticulous building of the scene that the rest of the book had - which is why I dropped one star off the rating. But it is an excellent read and I'd recommend it .
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 September 2005
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.
In the face of the new killing, Wallander's becomes convinced something sinister lies behind both deaths, and concedes to return to the job, heading the team investigating the lawyer's murder.
Much of what can be said about Mankell's crime novels already has been. His characters are compelling and human (this novel sees the appearance of Ann-Britt Hoglund, the female recruit who is such a presence in the remaining novels. This one too, actually); his picture of Sweden as anything but a snowy Nordic idyll is as impressive as Rankin's rendering of Edinburgh or Burke's Louisianna; he is a master of sinister and unbearably claustrophobic atmospheres (which contrast admirably with Sweden's huge open spaces), and his version of police-work is the most realistic I've come across, certainly the most nerve-bitingly tense. He's one of the best there is.
Part of the reason why it's all so engrossing is Mankell's mixture of details. He has a moody obsession with weather and the time, and he depicts a level of procedural detail that should be all rights be dull, but is instead riveting. Because of this he has created a very real impression, through the whole series, that the crucial breakthrough, the information which might crack the case wide open, could come from absolutely anywhere, from the most mundane of tasks.
The other great strength is, of course, Wallander. He may not be the most cheerful company, but he is charming and one of the most endearing of current detectives. In a way, he's more real than Bosch or Rebus, less of a hard-man certainly. Though similarly flawed, he doesn't really behave like either. He tends to throw himself into the investigations and constantly obsess over them to relieve his tension. And he gets angry properly: like a child. In Firewall his frustration becomes so much that he snaps and throws a chair across a colleague's office.
The Man Who Smiled is a bit shorter than some of the most recent translations, which only makes it better. Just as much quality is distilled into less space, so the whole thing is more powerful and also slightly faster. This one is actually the most conventional of Mankell's mysteries, and there are some excellent twists and turns here. The strongest individual aspect is the sinister figure of Alfred Harderberg - the multinational business Wallander becomes convinced is behind everything. He lives in a secluded castle, seems to be permanently unreachable, hides behind an army of wintry secretaries and is in the constant company of two silent goons. Oh, and he has a most unnerving constant smile...
Sadly, then this is the last new Wallander novel I will get to read (unless Mankell makes a spectacular u-turn). Good to go out on a high note, though: it may be the last, but of this astoundingly fine series it is also one of the best.
0Comment|88 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 January 2016
Sad that Kurt has moved on....but at least he has found peace even if he is not aware! Probably the most entertaining, edifying and thought provoking series I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I shall miss my "companion", Thank you most sincerely Henning.... You have made my life a little richer! Mike A.
review image
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 July 2013
Most Scandiwegian crime writing sits in the shadow of The Girl trilogy - and it is certainly true this is not of the same literary standard. But it is entertaining, and Mankell has a distinctive voice
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 December 2014
Another good read in the Wallender series. However, I was disappointed in the ending as I felt it was too contrived. It seemed as if he searched around for a way to finish it off but didn't really find one.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 August 2010
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.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 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!
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 5 June 2013
I've never read a Mankell book I didn't like, but have to say that this isn't one of his best, though it still gets four stars from me. The atmosphere is there from the opening sequence on the beach at Skagen to the bleak Skane autumn. There are also the usual excursions into Wallander's private and family life which act as a yardstick for the whole series, and which give it a strong sense of reality. In this book there's also an added sense of menace and danger, as Wallander becomes the hunted as well as the hunter. But the villain of this piece is rather less credible than usual, and the the story does seem longer and more convoluted than necessary.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 October 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.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 February 2006
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.
In the face of the new killing, Wallander's becomes convinced something sinister lies behind both deaths, and concedes to return to the job, heading the team investigating the lawyer's murder.
Much of what can be said about Mankell's crime novels already has been. His characters are compelling and human (this novel sees the appearance of Ann-Britt Hoglund, the female recruit who is such a presence in the remaining novels. This one too, actually); his picture of Sweden as anything but a snowy Nordic idyll is as impressive as Rankin's rendering of Edinburgh or Burke's Louisianna; he is a master of sinister and unbearably claustrophobic atmospheres (which contrast admirably with Sweden's huge open spaces), and his version of police-work is the most realistic I've come across, certainly the most nerve-bitingly tense. He's one of the best there is.
Part of the reason why it's all so engrossing is Mankell's mixture of details. He has a moody obsession with weather and the time, and he depicts a level of procedural detail that should be all rights be dull, but is instead riveting. Because of this he has created a very real impression, through the whole series, that the crucial breakthrough, the information which might crack the case wide open, could come from absolutely anywhere, from the most mundane of tasks.
The other great strength is, of course, Wallander. He may not be the most cheerful company, but he is charming and one of the most endearing of current detectives. In a way, he's more real than Bosch or Rebus, less of a hard-man certainly. Though similarly flawed, he doesn't really behave like either. He tends to throw himself into the investigations and constantly obsess over them to relieve his tension. And he gets angry properly: like a child. In Firewall his frustration becomes so much that he snaps and throws a chair across a colleague's office.
The Man Who Smiled is a bit shorter than some of the most recent translations, which only makes it better. Just as much quality is distilled into less space, so the whole thing is more powerful and also slightly faster. This one is actually the most conventional of Mankell's mysteries, and there are some excellent twists and turns here. The strongest individual aspect is the sinister figure of Alfred Harderberg - the multinational business Wallander becomes convinced is behind everything. He lives in a secluded castle, seems to be permanently unreachable, hides behind an army of wintry secretaries and is in the constant company of two silent goons. Oh, and he has a most unnerving constant smile...
Sadly, then this is the last new Wallander novel I will get to read (unless Mankell makes a spectacular u-turn). Good to go out on a high note, though: it may be the last, but of this astoundingly fine series it is also one of the best.
0Comment|38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.