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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the unabridged downloadable audiobook edition of After the Fire by Henning Mankell.

Fredrik Welin is a 70-year-old retired doctor. Years ago he retreated to the Swedish archipelago where he lives alone on an island. He swims in the sea every day, cutting a hole in the ice if necessary. He lives a quiet life. Until he wakes up one night to find his house on fire.

Fredrik escapes just in time, wearing two left-footed wellies, as neighbouring islanders arrive to help douse the flames. All that remains in the morning is a stinking ruin and evidence of arson. The house that has been in his family for generations and all his worldly belongings are gone. He cannot think who would do such a thing or why. Without a suspect, the police begin to think he started the fire himself.

Tackling love, loss and loneliness, After the Fire is Henning Mankell's compelling last novel.

©2017 Henning Mankell (P)2017 Random House Audiobooks

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  • mollyeyre
  • 11-17-17

Hmmmm!

Well, I think this is the oddest book I have ever read - there really wasn't any 'story', it was just the meandering memories of a retired doctor. He was incredibly despondent and depressive - YET - I didn't want to put the book down as he had captured me. The 'mystery' such as it was, related to a fire that had burned down his family home, it was obvious to me who was the arsonist!
The doctor - Fredrick (not sure of spelling) really was not the nicest person one could wish to meet, he was self absorbed and depressing in a 'poor me' tone, his daughter, too, was not a particularly nice character, yet again, I wanted to know what it was all about. This really was an odd book, and I am surprised that I saw it through, it has left me just a little haunted!! I think this tells what a good writer Henning Mankell is!
Sean Barrett is such a good narrator, his voice even took on that 'depressed' tone, and I think he adds to the strength of the book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 10-24-17

A beautiful elegiac farewell


This is Mankell’s final book written just before his death two years ago in 2015 and now translated into English. Forget all his Wallanders and other crime novels, this is a stand-alone work of great poignancy and depth so beautifully read that you accept Sean Barrett as Mankell himself, as well as the retired doctor Welin whose story this is.

A description of the scenario sounds like 11 hours of unremittingly melancholy. 70 year-old Welin (retired after an operation he was carrying out went horribly wrong) lives alone on an isolated Swedish archipelago in the house which had belonged to his parents. After it is burned down by an arsonist, he loses everything; his ill-tempered, troubled daughter Louise, who grew up away from him, makes a visit which is both uncomfortable and irritating for him. Even his meal contains ‘fatigue and sorrow’, and the fish and the humans are disappearing from the island. It seems ‘an ocean of emptiness’ like the Japanese-style garden Louise would like to make on the island, and there is a great deal about loneliness and loss.

But it is all so gentle (and Sean Barrett’s voice is wonderful for this) and so insightful that it doesn’t seem merely melancholy. There is the low-key crime investigation (who is the arsonist setting fire to other houses?) which makes Welin muse on just how well we ever know others; there is a new life which could grow into the next century, and his deepening relationship with his daughter; his not entirely satisfactory but treasured friendship with the prickly journalist decades younger than himself; there’s his memories of the past which come back to him in waves and make Welin entirely real and human as he (and I think Mankell) reviews his life and awaits the end he knows must come. The novel ends as Welin’s house is being re-built, the fish have returned to the sea: the final note is one of uplift and redemption (which I can’t explain without spoiling the plot). This one will stay with you.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • M. MARTINEZ
  • 10-22-17

could not stop listening.

loved it, great pace and got me immerse in his characters and the island. I could see the place smell the fire. Sean Barret is just my best reader.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Macwoman
  • 12-31-17

Last of Mankell well worth the read

If you're a fan of Wallander, you will soon settle into the typical style of Mankell. It isn't exactly a who-done-it, though it contains a mystery. It has that very thoughtful, slightly depressed feel to it that Mankell adopted as he aged. An older man faces the last years of his life after a fire has burnt down his house and taken all that he possesses in one fell swoop. What turns out to be important is a surprise. A setting in which nothing turns out quite as you would imagine. It captured my attention, however - some books just don't let you go until the end, and this was one. Hard to understand why people choose to live on isolated Swedish islands, and worse when you have little but basic shelter against the elements in winter. But people have lived this way for generations, and they do survive, as our man does. It has that atmospheric something of Scandi noir which is a welcome antidote to the perennial sunny climes of the Mediterranean.

Sean Barrett has the gift of making you feel he is personally reading to you by the fireside on a dark night when you can only be thankful for the shelter you possess and wish everyone had it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nike
  • 11-15-17

Just had a fire

So well told and accurate with all the panache of the professional. Such a student of human nature. I shall run It again and again

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-23-18

Disappointing

As a huge fan of Wallander I was looking forward to this audiobook. the narration was good but I found the story difficult to engage with.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ann Williams
  • 06-20-18

Melancholy

Not what I expected from Mankell. Very melancholy and grey. Would have given up on this book but got very involved with characters.

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  • Jacqueline
  • 04-02-18

A different kind of Mankell.

Not at all what I expected. Strange, almost depressing but very compelling, entirely addictive listening.

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  • Margaret
  • 03-20-18

Different to what I expected

I have to admit that at times I thought about giving up on this book but once finished I am glad I continued with it. The pace is slow and it is so different to the others written by Henning Mankell, of course the wonderful performance of Sean Barrett added to the atmosphere of the story. There is though an atmosphere of impending death about the whole book but it does have an unexpected twist at the end.

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  • firedog
  • 12-23-17

Outstanding

At first I thought this book was slow paced but quickly I became immersed in the story, the characters, the setting and loved it.
What was most poignant was knowing it was Mankell's last book, finished after he had his diagnosis of cancer.
What a writer, what a novel.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • PhilippaB
  • 10-28-17

Great story

I really enjoyed this book. Kept me fully engaged from the beginning to the end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Pamela Hawke
  • 03-20-18

Loved this book ....sad it is his last

Would you consider the audio edition of After the Fire to be better than the print version?

Yes solely for Sean Barret’s perfect narration& pronunciation of Scandinavian characters names & place names

What was one of the most memorable moments of After the Fire?

The joy of becoming a grandfather when not given the chance to be a father to his daughter

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Every scene which transported the reader to the stunning beauty, isolation & changing seasons was special

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Raw & beautiful isolated survival

Any additional comments?

Sean Barret is such a perfect narrator for Mankell’s Archipelago books that I forgot he wasn’t the author

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  • Sandra
  • 11-05-17

Pedestrian

A fascinating story in which nothing happens. You keep listening hoping something will happen, then it ends. And nothing has happened.