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Sidetracked: A Kurt Wallander Mystery | [Henning Mankell]

Sidetracked: A Kurt Wallander Mystery

While tracking a demented serial killer, Detective Kurt Wallander is beset with obstacles: a department distracted by the threat of cutbacks and the frivolity of World Cup soccer, a tenuous relationship with a widow, and an unshakably haunting preoccupation with a girl who set herself on fire.
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Publisher's Summary

Detective Kurt Wallander is called to a nearby rapeseed field where a teenage girl has been loitering all day long. He arrives just in time to watch her douse herself in gasoline and set herself aflame. The next day, he is called to a beach where Sweden's former minister of justice has been axed to death and scalped. The murder has the obvious markings of a demented serial killer, and Wallander is frantic to find him before he strikes again. But his investigation is beset with obstacles: a department distracted by the threat of cutbacks and the frivolity of World Cup soccer, a tenuous relationship with a widow, and an unshakably haunting preoccupation with the girl who set herself on fire.

Fascinating and astute, Sidetracked is a compelling mystery enhanced by keen social awareness.

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

©1995 by Henning Mankell; English translation ©1999 by Steven T. Murray; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Connoisseurs of the police procedural will tear into this installment like the seven-course banquet it is." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Full of emotion yet cleanly written, apparently straightforward yet fraught with intriguing revelations, Mankell's latest mystery is strongly recommended." (Library Journal)
"Mankell's meticulously detailed descriptions of the inspector's investigation, and his often lyrical portrayal of Wallander's struggle to rearrange his thought processes in order to catch the criminal, are masterful." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (433 )
5 star
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4.2 (236 )
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4.2 (237 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rebecca brentwood, CA, United States 02-10-08
    Rebecca brentwood, CA, United States 02-10-08 Member Since 2007

    Daily Dog Walker and LONG Silicon Valley commutes, so I gulp through and love lotsa books, especially literary fiction and Mystery.

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    "Gripped again..."

    I've read and listened to Mankell's Wallander novels entirely out of order now but it hasn't mattered one bit. Each book is a novel unto itself, and almost each one bears the reader on a journey into real dimensions of human struggle -- whether the protagonists, the antagonists or the supporting characters or all of the aforementioned.

    Sidetracked is one of my favorites, I'd almost encourage someone who hasn't read Mankell to read this one or "The Fifth Woman" first -- both are so resonant. Two of the earlier books -- "The Dogs of Riga" and "White Lioness" are very good, but not superb. This one -- is superb. This novel, like "The Fifth Woman" takes what on surface could be an utterly implausible series of horrendous murders and makes the murderer sympathetic or compelling while giving the reader a fully-realized, flawed but deeply sympathetic policeman and his family-- his daughter, his father -- but also his police family who become important and endearing as well.

    I feel like I've become the Chief Member of the Henning Mankell Fan Club but in my mind this series encapsules what great books are -- riveting, but memorable, fully-realized characters, books that make you think, and think, and think some more. I've said in previous reviews that these novels transcend genre writing, and they do. For those who love police procedurals, these are among the best; for those who love literary fiction, these again, are among the best.

    29 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. stone boulder creek, ca 04-05-09
    G. stone boulder creek, ca 04-05-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A fan of Mankell"

    I like the Swedish author Mankell quite a bit, although I have to take a break between books, as I always do with serials. The story plays in a "real time" sense, sharing with the reader the frustration of a complicated crime investigation. With Wallander (protagonist) you ask yourself, why would anyone want the job of the underpaid, overworked, not really appreciated outside the office guy? Then you get your answer played out in a suspenseful, provoking, well written, and lots of other good adjectives, story. I'm a pretty picky mystery book reader/listener, and the book is well-tooled enough to get five golden stars....if you like police procedurals.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 04-26-14
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 04-26-14 Member Since 2006

    Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wallender without Kenneth Brannach"

    I have watched some of the BBC series based on these books, but this was my first "reading" of one. The TV version is bleak indeed, and Sweden is portrayed as a really depressing place.

    I found the listening experience to be more balanced. Because the book is not so entirely focused on Wallander and his demons, it presents a wider view entirely. The detective's frequent depression isn't so much the crux of the story as an intricate part of the puzzle.

    "Sidetracked" is a great thriller. We know who the perpetrator is from nearly the beginning, so this is more a police procedural than a mystery. But it's also a really good study about the psychology and humanity of a seeming monster. It has really intense violence, but it also has great suspense, an interesting and varied cast of characters, and terrific writing.
    Dick Hill narrates beautifully.

    I'll seek out other listens in this series.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 08-03-12
    David Houston, TX, United States 08-03-12 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

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    "I got sidetracked"

    I listened to this book over a period of three months. There was never any question of not finishing it, but I found it really easy to set it aside for something more compelling and come back to it only when I had a lull in my listening menu. This despite the fact that the lead detective in the case struggles with his constant dread of failing to solve the crimes before another diabolical murder is committed. Perhaps because we are clued in to the identity and agenda of the killer quite early on and allowed some measure of sympathy for him (there is never any question of its being a female), I never shared Wallander's angst about the case. As a result, it was easy to maintain some distance and simply wander along with Mankell's characteristically expert storytelling-- measured and filled with mundane but telling detail. As always, his characters were superbly drawn in a myriad of evocative and beautifully observed moments, and the crimes involved were grisly and fascinating. But there was simply nothing gripping about the progression of the storyline--at least for me.

    In addition, the singsong, somewhat monotonous vocal inflection which Dick Hill uses for the narration, while not entirely inappropriate to the Swedish setting, also made it easier to walk away from the story and take a prolonged break from time to time.

    If you are an admirer of Mankell's writing, you will not regret using a credit for this installment of the Wallander series, but you may find that in this one you are more involved with the detective's relationships with his family than with the apprehension of the killer.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Staten Island, NY, United States 10-30-10
    Julia Staten Island, NY, United States 10-30-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Fun to listen to and pretty gripping!"

    This is my third Mankell mystery and I have to confess that I am pretty much addicted. Sure, some things don't make sense in the end and you have to suspend disbelief here and there, but even so, you can't stop listening and I sat in my car more that once not wanting to turn off the story and get out, I just had to find out what happened next! I love the brooding self-reflective characters and its obvious that Steig Larson is a knock off of Mankell only more gruesome. Dick Hill has a rather monotone voice and it can be a little weird in the begining, but after a bit you don't react to it. I just downloaded my next Mankell mystery, I want to hear more!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tthomson53 Richmond, VA, United States 09-13-11
    tthomson53 Richmond, VA, United States 09-13-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Another great story marred by poor narration"

    This is another great story about a very depressive detective. Unfortunately, Dick Hill seems to be the narrator for all of the Wallander novels. He's fine when speaking like a real man, but he slips so easily into an infantile, nasal voice when speaking for just about everyone except Kurt Wallander, which ruins them as real characters. His female impersonations are a joke for the same reason. I'm afraid I'm going to have to default to the written word for the most recent four books in the series. I can't stand Hill any more!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Salt Lake City, UT United States 03-03-08
    Susan Salt Lake City, UT United States 03-03-08 Member Since 2005

    slc_reader

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    "Loved it."

    I love this author, love his "lawman". This book is as great as all the others. Great plot, great characters. Once I start a Mankell I can't stop until done. Love them all!

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pavel Czech Republic 02-27-09
    Pavel Czech Republic 02-27-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Slow beginning"

    The mix of crime&politics&skin business story somehow didn't catch my attention. You can easily FF without loosing a context, narration seems too pathetic, detective Wallander's indecisiveness in his personal life is frustrating and not very believable. After listening to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I was hoping to get similar 'Nordic' experience here, but I was disappointed.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Erickson The Villages, FL, USA 07-12-14
    Mike Erickson The Villages, FL, USA 07-12-14 Member Since 2012

    Major Mike

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    "Dick Hill is Slow"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Yes. Get a different narrator.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Wallander. He is a complex, clever, and troubled man who is dogged in his pursuit of a solution.


    Did Dick Hill do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Yes, he did. But he reads so slowly. I'm now listening to one of his other "reads", The Devil's Punchbowl, by Greg Isles. I put it on 2x speed and it's wonderful. He's much better at 2x. His characterizations are excellent at this speed. At 1x I kept saying, "Come on, come on!" Now it's perfect.


    Could you see Sidetracked being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Wallander on Masterpiece Mystery. 'Nough said.


    Any additional comments?

    I'll be listening to Dick Hill at 2x from now on. More Wallander for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 05-12-14
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 05-12-14 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

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    "Gave It Four Stars BUT..."

    I'll not get another Kurt Wallander mystery… for a while, anyway. Everything about this book is competent. So competent that Henning Manekell and Dick Hill bring Wallander alive. And I don't like him much. As usual with northern Europe mysteries, there's a darkness poured over everything that's deeper and longer than a Swedish winter night. It seems to be a rule for these authors. That's not the problem. The thing is that making Wallander so human, he becomes a boring kind of human who I'd not even want to chat up at a cocktail party. I picture his skin, conversations, and feelings all in chilly shades of grey-blue. The story isn't boring, it's lead character though…

    I gave the book four stars.. yet can't recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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