After listening to a more current Kurt Wallander mystery, I bought this with the intent to start this series from the beginning. I have been going th..Show More »rough "Harry Bosch withdrawl" and Wallander has become a great addition as a very enjoyable detective series for me. I find Wallender different from Bosch; he is a little easier to relate to as a real person with real life issues and daily problems. He does not solve this crime brilliantly, but rather with hard work, capable help from his colleagues (which added even more interesting characters to get to know,) trial and error, but, of course, with a true talent as a detective.
The mystery was great, and had no "first book" feel to it. Some writers truly evolve in their writing skills, to the point that the earlier books are not as well written as the later ones, but none of that here. Menkell started with a bang! The plot was complex, interesting, and suspenseful. I really wanted to keep listening to it, even when I had to turn it off.
Unlike many detective mysteries, where the reader is introduced to potential killers in some fashion before the end of the book, Menkell kept us as much in the dark as to the killer(s)' identitiy as Wallander, which gave me the feeling that I was working right along with Wallander as to what to do next, and really brought me into the story.
I like Dick Hill, and I enjoyed him here. I prefer a narrator who puts some drama into the reading of a book, yet I did not think he went over the top. I found him very easy to listen to, and to also keep the voices of the characters distinct from one another. All-in-all it was very enjoyable, authentic, and I definitely plan to read more of the Wallander series.
Faceless Killers (1991), Henning Mankell's first Kurt Wallander detective/police novel, opens with an aged Swedish farmer waking up in the middle of t..Show More »he night on January 7, 1990 trying to dismiss his feeling that something dreadful has just happened: “After all, what could happen here? In the little town of Lenarp, just north of Kade Lake, on the way to beautiful Krageholm Lake, right in the heart of Skane? Nothing ever happens here." He knows that "People like us don't have any enemies." Alas, as he soon learns, his neighbors have just been savagely attacked, the husband bashed and cut to death and the wife beaten and noosed. Who could do something like that? And why? And why did the attackers feed couple's horse before vacating the scene of the crime? And can veteran detective Kurt Wallander apprehend the criminals?
At forty-two, Wallander is not in great shape. His wife left him three months ago, his once suicidal daughter is now estranged, his demanding and resentful father is going senile, he's visited by a black woman in lonely erotic dreams, he is overweight, and he is not pretty when he drinks. The only thing that gives him pleasure (albeit mixed with melancholy) is listening to opera. For the rest of the novel, Wallander wrestles with (or ignores or exacerbates) his personal problems as he marshals his policeman techniques, colleagues, and instincts to try to solve the brutal mystery.
Mankell efficiently and compellingly fulfills the mystery-police-procedural genre requirements: brutal murders, red herrings, dead ends, epiphanies, media leaks, social problems, ineffectual government officials, unpredictable action scenes, believable supporting characters, and a flawed but good protagonist. And it feels interesting and fresh enough, perhaps partly because it takes place in Sweden, land of exotic names, bitter winters, and police who don't carry guns. Small touches in the novel hold up an interesting mirror to America, as when a policeman says about a "slaughterhouse" of a crime scene, "It was worse than you could imagine . . . Like an American movie." And through Wallander's point of view Mankell captures the dramatic and unsettling changes going on in Sweden in the 1990s: disorganized multi-ethnic refugee camps, organized nationalist neo-Nazis groups, increased drug and violent gang activity in previously quiet rural areas, and so on. At one point Wallander thinks, “A new world had emerged, and he hadn’t even noticed it. As a policeman, he still lived in another, older world. How was he going to learn to live in the new?” For "We're living in the age of the noose," a new age of senseless violence and fear.
Despite the barren and silent Swedish autumn and winter, despite moments when Wallander does something “unforgivable and dangerous,” despite moments when he thinks, “Somewhere in the dark a vast meaninglessness was beckoning. A sneering face that laughed scornfully at every attempt he made to manage his life,” the novel is not a downer. There is the appealing grim humor. The human characters. The neat lines sprinkled throughout. (E.g., “Every time he stepped into someone’s home, he felt as though he were looking at the cover of a book he’d just bought.” And “There’s no such thing as a murderer’s face.”) And, after all, Wallander is "a policeman to the core."
It is not a perfect novel. At one point, for instance, Wallander receives a call from a woman who whispers, “They’re here!” and he with unbelievable obtuseness says, “Who?” If the reader immediately knows "their" identity, surely Wallander, a veteran policeman with great instincts who's been living the case for months, would surely know it at the same time, if not first.
Sean Barrett gives a professional and appealing reading of Faceless Killers. I've listened to him read Kafka on the Shore, Waiting for Godot, and The Silver Sword, and each time he's been great. I appreciate that his women sound like people, not like a man striving to sound like women. He enhances the book. I am curious, though, why the Swedish original lasts 9+ hours, the Dick Hill read version about 9 hours, and Barrett's only about 8 hours. . .
Since the realistic contemporary detective-mystery-police-procedural is not my favorite genre, I'm unsure whether or not I'll continue the Wallander series, especially because the remaining books available are not read by Sean Barrett, but fans of that genre (especially examples set in an exotic country) should enjoy Faceless Killers.
My interest was piqued when I read on the audible just released lists about Swedish author Henning Mankell. I read the publisher's summary and though..Show More »t they looked interesting. I'd never read a Swedish author before, that I know of anyway, and thought why not give it a try. I've always found the Baltic history intriguing so decided to give Dogs of Riga a try as my first one. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and getting to know Kurt Wallander. It was a fun listen with with plenty of plot twists and turns. Henning writes a good story. I enjoyed hearing the descriptions of life in both Sweden and Latvia. You wonder sometimes what the citizens of both countries think about life there and it appears to have its challenges. I will look forward to listening to the other Mankell books on Audible.
What a great book. The story is well constructed and is arranged against a backdrop of the political landscape of South Africa in 1990's. What a fant..Show More »astic detective story. Cannot wait to hear the next "Kurt Volander" story.
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. ..Show More » 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.
Not the best of the Wallander series, still magic. Too much angst about the past to start. Then, when the plot thickens, wonderful mystery and minds f..Show More »ocused on the solution to a national disgrace, let alone a murder. The unravelling of a multi-national company and crime is thought provoking while foreign to most people's experience, including mine. It's so hard for someone in the 99% to comprehend the lives of the 1% I almost lost sight of the emptiness it must be to be mega-wealthy, the only reason for life to get more. This is a profound literary illustration of the greed, soulessnes, and narcissism that seems to rule the world, all wrapped around a murder investigation. Marvelous read.
Sean Barrett excellent as always with the delivery of the story.
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 ..Show More »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.
I often expect to be entertained with a good mystery, but my expectations save for a handful of writers usually end right there. This is my first Man..Show More »kell novel, and I'm savoring the prospect of now reading more.
The book is atmospheric and touching, the plotting deft and this is no mean task since lesser writers would have held the reader captive with the gruesome and grisly torture and carnage that send the book's protagonist on his detecting mission.
The character development is superb, this book transcends the genre classification of "mystery" and is, rather, a novel and a fine one in the best sense of the word.
The narration was also strong, and in the end the book made me reflect, gave me pleasure in describing landscape, a father-son relationship, and police team relationships, and finally entertained, I could not stop listening. An excellent read, I look forward to making up for last Mankell time now!
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. Man..Show More »kell 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!
I am a big fan of Henning Mankell. I liked this story but it was not my favorite of his. The story is a typical Mankell crime story with seeming dispa..Show More »rate events that are tied up in the end. The cast of characters continue to be well developed but for some reason I felt like the story was less cohesive than some of his others have been. I will continue to listen to his stories though and would encourage others to give him a try if they haven't already.
I am a fan of Kurt Wallender and appreciate Mankell's methodical and thorough narrative. This is not a fast read, but a great read. I like knowing the..Show More » case from Wallender's perspective and find his character flawed yet endearing. Firewall is about coincidences and conclusions wrapped up in computer terrorism. I am as unknowledgeable as Wallender when it comes to technology, but was able to keep up with him and the elements of the mystery as it unfolded. Mankell doesn't force all of the pieces together and keeps suspense building. I was introduced to Kurt Wallender on PBS Masterpiece Mystery, and enjoy the episodes, but they don't come close to Mankell's own mastery.
I really liked these stories. I agree with the other reviewers who have noted that they provide the early history of Kurt Wallander. The story calle..Show More »d "The Pyramid" is extraordinary. It reminded me of Fellini with the some of the images: his difficult and eccentric father and the latter's trip to Egypt necessitating Wallender to travel there to get him out of jail. Hard to explain unless you've read it, which I encourage you to do.
Kurt Wallander, the intuitive inspector, first came upon the scene as a 42-year-old detective with many years of experience in the first novel in the ..Show More »series. After four more novels, Henning Mankell realized that what was missing was Wallander's background. So he started to write several short stories to fill in the blanks. Three more novels in the series appeared before the five short stories in this volume were completed.
In the first short story, we find Wallander in Malmo as a uniformed patrolman who bumbles his way into the investigation into the murder of his next door neighbor, the beginning of his career as a homicide detective. It is during this period that he meets and weds Mona. The next story takes the couple to Ystad and the birth of Linda, their daughter. It is, of course, where he spends the rest of his career. The stories trace the development of Wallander's instincts as well as his divorce, relationship with his father and growing daughter.
All the characteristics of the novels in the series are present in these short stories. It is essential history and embellishes Wallander's personality. Also, the common thread in all the novels, the deterioration of society, runs through the stories. This book is Mankell in top form. For Mankell/Wallander fans, a must read, and highly recommended
Scandinavian gloom reaches its fascinating apogee with this series of detective novels by Henning Mankell, of which The Troubled Man would appear to b..Show More »e the last. Kurt Wallender, the middle-aged police detective and anti-hero of the series, is a divorced, lonely, rather unhappy man, who happens to have a real talent for sniffing out the truth behind complicated criminal cases. Two television series (one English, starring Kenneth Branagh, and the other Swedish which is far more authentic if you can get your head around Swedish with subtitles - I swear you begin to understand the language more and more!) have been made about these books. The stories are centred around the town of Ystad on the southern tip of Sweden and the characters always seem to be hopping over to nearby Copenhagen for some R&R, possibly for relief from the rather earnest nature of rural Sweden. The plots are interesting because they bring in issues such as refugee-smuggling and the sometimes difficult relations between Sweden and its Baltic neighbours. The country's neutral role during WWII and it's ambivalent relationship to NATO also come under inspection. Wallender has a daughter Linda who has become involved with a young financier (working in Copenhagen, naturally!) whose parents suddenly disappear one after the other. The father was a former naval officer and submarine commander who was concerned with several (actual) Soviet submarine incursions into Swedish territorial waters during the early 1980s. There is more than a hint of political intrigue tying in to the pro-American attitudes of the Swedish military and its open distaste for the Social Democrat prime minister Olof Palme, who was assassinated on a Stockholm street in 1986, a crime which has never been solved to this day. Wallender, plagued by his failed marriage, dental problems, and his growing fear of death as he passes the 60 mark finds himself leaving his dog with his neighbours more and more ("Are you sure you don't want to sell him?") as he travels to Riga, Berlin and various parts of Sweden in an attempt to unravel the puzzle. There are times when one feels like giving him a good swift kick but his obduracy and dogged unrelenting approach to the problem elicit reluctant admiration. What really happened? Read (or listen to) the book!
Kurt Wallander solves his last case before descending into dementia. As a Mankell/Wallander fan, I regret writing these words but find this ending som..Show More »ehow appropriate for the dogged detective whose case investigations never faltered despite personal life baggage and the infirmities of aging. The Troubled Man gives us Wallander working on a case of Swedish spys (who knew!)tied to submarines, Russia and the the good old USA while he grows to adore a grandaughter. This story deals the detective some blows with the death of a loved one and his ex-wife's mental health and sobriety problems. Despite his malaise and life's foilbles, the beleaguered policeman ultimately outwits the criminals and he and daughtter Linda come to a more mellowed relationship. The finely etched and eccentric character of Detective Kurt will be missed but perhaps Linda, who is impatient to return to police work, will carry on the Wallander name.