Warily, he returns to work to head what may now have become a double murder case. A rookie female detective has joined the force in his absence, and he adopts the role of mentor to her as they fight to unravel the mystery.
©1994 Henning Mankell, translation ©2005 Laurie Thompson; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"Dark and moody, this is crime fiction of the highest order." (Publishers Weekly)
"Mankell is a master of the traditional arts of the crime novel, narrative pacing, and suspense." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
"Few of this genre's writers, few of any genre's writers, have been able to balance the ordinary and the grotesque with such literary dash and page-turning brio." (Boston Herald)
I love books!
I feel like I've just finished an Henning Mankell trilogy; Dogs of Riga, White Lioness, and now The Man Who Smiled. I must admit I enjoyed them all. I guess now I"ll have to go back to his first book and then hope that the later Wallander stories show up on Audible. In Man Who Smiled, the author again delves into the human side of Kurt Wallander and he has many of the same feelings we all do, at least I know I do. I always thought the weather in Sweden would suck and in reading these books that's affirmed unless you like living somewhere where it's foggy, rainy, cold a good portion of the time. The mystery flows pretty well, too, sometimes it seems the story moves slowly as the investigation plays out but Mankell does make the story interesting. Sometimes you think what is Kurt Wallander doing but it does make for an interesting tale.
. . . you won't be disappointed by this audio book. The narrator is excellent. I have 3 of the Mankells available here, and Dick Hill narrates all of them. He's very good at the Swedish stuff, and particularly good at varying his voice and intonation to indicate different characters. Even the women are quite believable and recognisable as women. This is done very subtly and unobtrusively, and results in a very enjoyable experience for the listener.
In general, I'd say this isn't one of Mankell's best Wallander books, but it's ok. The other two I've got are better novels. But the quality of the narration is excellent in them all, and so despite an initial skepticism regarding audio books, I'm now a committed listener. I drive a lot of long distance trips, and these things keep me awake and alert, and well-entertained.
I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
Henning Mankell has systematically constructed a series centering on Kurt Wallender, a police detective who retires after many years, and then is drawn back into the world of law and order by a case that he can't resist. Mankell has so many skills in this genre that he puts many American writers who plumb this genre to shame. His plots are so full of twists and turns that you find yourself spinning, following red herrings, trying to pronounce the names of Swedish towns (just kidding,sorta) and people, trying to solve the many-faceted case along with Wallender. Like many of his fellows in this genre, he is single and somewhat depressed. He has a double-edged relationship with an aged father who manages to cause trouble for his son despite his advancing age. We are tantalized by continuing possibilities of relationships with women. Mankell occasionally slips us into the world of non-fiction, referring to the case of Robert Maxwell, a Brit who constructed a gigantic Ponzi scheme decades ago, and who eventually jumped off his yacht rather than face justice. His empire collapsed the moment he died, and he was thoroughly defamed and disgraced, many years before Bernie Madoff did the exact same thing, depriving millions of simple investors of their hard-earned pensions and small investments, as well as cheating his own family and some very large and powerful individuals. This story contains a rich guy very similar to Maxwell, a very private, shady man who lurks behind numerous screens, shadow companies, and who manages to steal four million kroner from a small town's government.
Dick Hill does his usual masterful job of narrating. How he manages to pronounce all those Swedish names and places I do not know. He also gives the proper nuance and moods for each character, and in each situation. He makes it sound easy, the mark of a true master. Any true fan of this genre should enjoy any one of these books. I recommend them to you without reservation.
I would love to see how this book would read after a top-notch American book editor massaged it. I have thought that British mysteries, as a whole, contain TMI about the main characters but I think the Swedes now have the No. 1 position.
I lost count of how many times I said "TMI" [too much information] while listening to this book. "He cut his toe nails before going to bed"! Really? REALLY!
If you got all of the angst that the main character (the #1 Swedish detective) has because he shot & killed a bad guy last year out of the way then there is a pretty good mystery in "The Man Who Smiled" but it is more of a character study than a mystery.
Good performance, interesting plot, believable characters and good translation
Similar in feel to Nebo and Harry Hole but different enough to hold my interest.
Dick Hill as usual makes the story live a little and I liked that
No one should regret spending the money on this one
This is my third Wallander mystery and the weakest story of the three. White Lioness was a great story, a little preachy at times but excellent overall. Sidetracked was suspenseful and exactly right for a murder mystery, a little gruesome at times but a worthy listen. The Man Who Smiled was OK, but the plot strained belief. Why did the lawyer figure out the dirty business but the forensic accountants couldn't see it? The plastic container/organ transplant side story was unnecessary and not believable. I'm continuing through the Mankell series, however, and my next one will be Dogs of Riga. Also, I've gotten accustomed to Dick Hill's narration. At first it was annoying, but give him a chance and you might even like his style after a few books.
A disappintment. Unlike other of Mankell's novels, the story is boring, with frequent repetitions of Inspector Vollander's ruminations and misgivings. On top of that the performance is really bad: the volume of the performer varies from normal to barely audible, which makes it difficult to follow.
Mankell is favorite (at least as far as the Kurt Wallander books are concerned), but this book lacks a credible conclusion. Up to the final chapters it's fine but falls apart after that.
An elderly lawyer is driving home in thick fog from a meeting with his most important client. He is anxious and upset. He has learned something for which he cannot keep silent. He fears the fog, he fears for his life. He reaches the crest of a hill and there in the middle of the road is what appears to be a man slumped in a kitchen chair...From there I was sucked into this great novel. I am listening to the Kurt Wallander novels in order. So far I have not been disappointed. They are masterfully plotted. The stories are complex and fresh, filled with commentary on a changing country and a changing way of life. Wallander is bruised and battered and brilliant. His supporting characters have flesh and they breathe. I am hooked. I cannot say enough good things about these excellent police procedurals.
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