©2003 Laurie Thompson; (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
The primary character in this volume is Stefan Lindman, a self absorbed policeman who acts as though the laws of the land do not apply to him. The story is complicated and entwined, as are most Mankell books. The characters are complicated and opaque, as are people in real life. The story here has depth, mystery and layers of understanding. It invokes the consequences of our personal histories and the histories of cultures. I should love this book, but I simply like it.
This book is better than the average detective novel out in the wild, but not as good as my favorite Mankell novels. Maybe it that is from my ill-suited affection for Kurt Wallander, the socially inept detective of many of Mankell's novels. Maybe it is because I felt actual dislike for Stefan Lindman who is careless with those who love him and irrational in his obsession with death caused by the tongue cancer detected early in the novel. Maybe it is because he gets to take months off work for this same tongue cancer when he is perfectly capable of going about his normal life (why, oh why did Mankell select such a ridiculous malady?).
The narration is good and appropriate to the book. I probably prefer Dick Hill's narration (for several other Mankell novels) but that could simply be from familiarity.
As always, Henning Mankell delivers a compelling story with flawed protagonists and twisted villains. The problem I had was with the narrator, Grover Gardner. While he has the kind of voice that you can hear and understand, he lacks sufficient skill in presenting different voices. There were conversations going on where I could not determine who was speaking because it all sounded the same. So while I would recommend Mr. Gardner for non fiction, I could not do so for anything where one has to follow conversations.
Herbert Molin, a recluse living in the small town in the forest in Sweden, is gruesomely murdered. The police are in the early days of investigation when his neighbor is also murdered. Mollon had been tortured before death, while Anderson is shot execution-style. But two murders in such a remote location have to be related. A visiting policeman, Stefan, on sick leave as he tries to come to grips with his diagnosis of tongue cancer, helps local police and forms a friendship with the investigator in charge, Joseppi.
Stefan, not officially on duty, follows questionable practices such as breaking into people's houses, to find clues, which he then passes on to Joseppi. The two men brainstorm and talk through the investigation as it gets closer and closer to an underground Nazi organization. The book indicts Nazism in both its historical and present incarnations, as links between its practice and the deaths surface. Introspective Stephan also deals with how Nazism has played a role in his family and upbringing.
After an initially very tense scene, this book develops slowly. The reserved manner in which the characters interact with one another creates a space between the reader and the characters. Even scenes which have to do with passion are told rather dispassionately. For this reason, the book didn't draw me back as strongly as some. However, the very intricate plot is interesting, and I wanted to know how it ended and what the crucial connections were. Mankell did a good job of holding the last pieces of the puzzle until the end.
I enjoy Scandinavian mystery and crime authors like Asa Larsson, Helene Tursten, Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum and Amaaldur Indridason just to name a few.
I have spent a lot of time with Henning Mankell and his characters and I think this is his best story. I have listened to this book a number of times and will again. If you enjoy Swedish stories, sit back and get ready for a complex piece of work..
I enjoyed the naration. Somehow the narator gets the feeling of a cold wet Sweden across, which sets the mood for the book. The story is well thought out and the plot intense. A most enjoyable experience.
The book is twice as long as it needs to be, full of useless repetition. The story itself is not all that interesting or intriguing. Maybe the translation is partly to blame. I did not enjoy the voice of the narrator - too much of a drone and a little whiney sometimes. I can't really recommend this book.
Wow! I couldn't believe how involved I got in the lives and stories of the main characters .. I really felt invested in the book and was not disappointed! This is an author I'll definitely read again!!!
Atmospheric Swedish mystery. Great plot and characters. Keeps you guessing. Didn't want it to end.
By Henning Mankell, not read by Grover Gardner
It was interesting
He can't pronounce Swedish names. A foreign book should not be read by someone who can't pronounce the words.
Henning Mankell is as brilliant as ever. The book has deeply flawed characters, a ghastly murder, and a depressed detective. What more could you ask for?
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