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One Step Behind: A Kurt Wallander Mystery | [Henning Mankell]

One Step Behind: A Kurt Wallander Mystery

On Midsummer's Eve, three role-playing teens dressed in 18th-century garb are shot in a secluded Swedish meadow. When one of Inspector Kurt Wallander's most trusted colleagues, someone whose help he hoped to rely on to solve the crime, also turns up dead, Wallander knows the murders are related. But with his only clue a picture of a woman no one in Sweden seems to know, he can't begin to imagine how.
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Publisher's Summary

On Midsummer's Eve, three role-playing teens dressed in 18th-century garb are shot in a secluded Swedish meadow. When one of Inspector Kurt Wallander's most trusted colleagues, someone whose help he hoped to rely on to solve the crime, also turns up dead, Wallander knows the murders are related. But with his only clue a picture of a woman no one in Sweden seems to know, he can't begin to imagine how.

Reeling from his father's death and facing his own deteriorating health, Wallander tracks the lethal progress of the killer. Locked in a desperate effort to catch him before he strikes again, Wallander always seems to be just one step behind.

Translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg.

More mayhem? Listen to all of our Kurt Wallander mysteries.

©1997 by Henning Mankell; English translation ©2002 by The New Press; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Satisfying in a way that has less to do with the wonders of forensic science than with the pure pleasure of rational thought." (New York Times)
"Mankell remains central to the flowering of a new, distinctly darker strain of the European hard-boiled crime novel." (Booklist)"Sure to please those who like weighty police procedurals....Mankell's writing is deadpan and stark, the plotting meticulous and exacting." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (509 )
5 star
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Overall
4.2 (180 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.3 (180 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Joanna SCOTTSDALE, AZ, United States 08-02-10
    Joanna SCOTTSDALE, AZ, United States 08-02-10 Member Since 2007

    Used to read classic lit for pleasure of well-written prose. Now, with MS, it's thrillers, courtroom/police dramas, and adventure to escape!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Definitely Recommend"

    This was my first listen to a Kurt Wallender mystery, and I enjoyed it so much that I will now be going back and getting them from the beginning. Mankell does a fantastic job with character development, and the reader is really brought into the personal side of all the characters, especially Wallender. The one thing that distinguishes his mystery writing about a police investigation is that he makes it real. There is no sugar coating on the talents of the investigators. They make mistakes, they struggle with dead ends, they break down with fatique and personal issues. They are human. It's great to read about the "cowboy" cops such as Harry Bosch or the super-human heroes such as Jack Reacher or Mitch Rapp. But is was refreshing to read a story that had such a strong ring of realism. Mankell created a police mystery story with a different kind of view of real crime solving.

    I wondered if some of the questionable decisions were intentional, or if Mankell didn't do exhaustive research, or if the Swedish police just aren't as advanced as the US in terms of forensics (for instance, it this book it took a week just to get a ballistics report back!) But, regardless, I had the feeling that I was in an authentic story, with humans who were not only talented, but also not flawless. It had a refreshing air of realism that made me feel that I was truly getting an undistorted picture of how a murder investigation would progress in real life. Mankell makes Wallender humble, and a strong leader, but also shows his human frailties and I came to truly like the character. Also, I love Dick Hill, always have, and he did not disappoint. He is one of my favorite narrators, and did a fantastic job with all the characters. Listening to him is comfortable.

    Don't be reluctant to read this book because it is from a foreign author, in a foreign country. With the exception of a few colloquialisms, there was nothing different than would take place in any city in the US.Loved it!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lehua Volcano, HI, USA 05-14-09
    Lehua Volcano, HI, USA 05-14-09 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Only slightly marred"

    Mankell did an excellent job, particularly with the characters. In fact I might have given this a 5 had there been less urination. There are times when it's as well to say it was a rainy spring rather than enumerate each raindrop. Still, well worth the time and money.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mspoet La Honda, CA, United States 01-27-09
    mspoet La Honda, CA, United States 01-27-09 Member Since 2007
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    "A very human detective"

    This was the first Kurt Wallander story I'd listened to and I like this character. He has so many bad habits and flaws ... he's just a regular guy. He's got great intuition but sometimes it takes him awhile to pull the intuitive thought from his subconcious. I like the way the author describes this process. The storyline was captivating. The translation was pretty good, but I wasn't all that thrilled with the narrator's over-annunciated style. I'll probably listen to another one of these.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Jackson, WY, USA 02-04-10
    William Jackson, WY, USA 02-04-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    5
    2
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    "Great writing, less than great reading"

    Having read Grover Gardner's terrific reading of Mankell's "Return of the Dancing Master", I was disappointed with Dick Hill's reading of this work. I found his character voices somewhat annoying. This said, still a good listen.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Corinne Washington, DC, United States 04-12-10
    Corinne Washington, DC, United States 04-12-10 Member Since 2004
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    "Another likeable detective"

    I finished all of the Michael Connelly books and was wondering how I'd get along without Harry Bosch. I have also read a number of Stephen White's books and feared I would soon be without a detective I liked as much as Alan Gregory or Harry Bosch. AND then I discovered (through some really helpful reviews) Kurt Wallander and I"m no longer worried. The narrative is excellent, the reader perfect for the book. I like the kind of low key committed case-solving by Bosch and Connelly without hype or pretension. Like Alan Gregory and Harry Bosch, Kurt Wallander is a real person with strengths, weaknesses, blunders, and and an abolute committment to his job. Henning Mankell is now on my list of really good authors (along with Greg Iles, Michael Connelly, Stephen White, Lee Child) in the Mystery area. I recommend the author highly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shadrach Smith Kansas City, Missouri USA 09-09-09
    Shadrach Smith Kansas City, Missouri USA 09-09-09 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nobody's going to sleep"

    Kurt Wallander's back again chasing another serial killer. This time, a local policeman is one of the victims and Wallander has developed the acute symptoms of diabetes. The disease drains his energy and blurs his vision as he leads a 24-7 search for the illusive killer. Wallander is driven to catch the killer before he/she strikes again and before his illness forces him off the case. Between working on the case 20 hours a day and having to urinate every 15 minutes, Wallander barely has the energy to make it to the end of the book.

    This is my second Mankell book and I am excited about going back in time to read the earlier books and learning more about the Swedish police detective. With Dick Hill's excellent narration, Kurt Wallander has a very Harry Bosch-like feel. So if you miss Harry, give Kurt Wallander a chance.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ulla thomason 01-16-08 Listener Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One Step Behind"

    As a translated book this was quite good. The pronounciation of the character and place names could have been better researched, but that might only have bothered me, who's mother tongue is Swedish.
    The plot got somewhat hung up on the detectives personal agonies without giving him depth and I don't think that the reason for the villain's madness got adequately explained. But all in all, not a bad "read".

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 09-25-07
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 09-25-07 Member Since 2005

    I love books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Way to go Kurt"

    I feel like Kurt Wallander is an old friend now, as much as he could have a friend. I've listened to all of his books on Audible and enjoyed them all thoroughly. He's roughly the same age as I and the life issues he encounters, the thoughts he has about life are much the same as I and I suspect many others. I googled Skane, Sweden, Wallander's home county, and there was a link saying come visit the setting where the Wallander books took place, that would be fun to do sometime. I hope more Mankell/Wallander books come to Audible!

    15 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eoin Kilcullen, Ireland 06-28-10
    Eoin Kilcullen, Ireland 06-28-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Where's the vernacular?"

    A so-so detective in a well-plotted book. I guess the protagonist is portrayed as a normal human being, complete (maybe replete?) with flaws. I think the way the investigation progresses may be more realistic than others in the genre too.

    However, Wallander's flaws are too numerous to render it enjoyable - and I like to escape when reading fiction. Others have mentioned this already.

    My major gripe is with the language used within the book. Is it a feature of the Swedish language, or is it a poor translation - or, indeed, is Mankell simply an average writer? I would suggest against the first, as I have heard the Stigg Larsson trilogy and that was well-written. My point is that there is NO vernacular or slang throughout the book. When someone in the force in alluded to, they're always called a "Policeman", or "Police Officer" (the latter for gender-neutrality). It really grates after a while. This makes for poor characterisations, and reduces sympathy for the characters - they're all rather wooden.

    The narrator is subpar too - but not the worst I have heard. He has few voice characterisations, so everyone sounds incredibly similar.

    This was my first, and sadly it will be my last Henning Mankell novel. Gimme James Lee Burke any day of the week.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeri 08-10-14
    Jeri 08-10-14 Member Since 2010
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    "uneven story"
    What did you love best about One Step Behind?

    I am quite fond of the Kurt Wallender stories, and have read them in order. This one was a bit uneven - we discover Kurt is experiencing symptoms of diabetes, and they play a big part of the first half of the story. However, when he's on the track of the killer, suddenly he is no longer experiencing symptoms??? The thirst and frequent urination was a big part of the first half of the story, but all of a sudden, that thread disappears.


    If you’ve listened to books by Henning Mankell before, how does this one compare?

    The back -story is more uneven than in previous stories.


    What about Dick Hill’s performance did you like?

    awesome. Dick Hill could read the phone book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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