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Publisher's Summary

In this adventure from the pen of Sweden's master of crime and mystery, a disillusioned Inspector Kurt Wallander is thrown back into the fray when he becomes both hunter and hunted. Crestfallen, dejected, and spiraling into an alcohol-fuelled depression after killing a man in the line of duty, Inspector Wallander has made up his mind to quit the police force for good. When an old acquaintance, a solicitor, seeks Wallander's help and later turns up dead, Wallander realizes that he was wrong not to listen.

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What listeners say about The Man Who Smiled

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The Mankell Trilogy

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.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A classic, mostly

Great characterization, strong Swedish setting, a convincing sense of the evils of the world and how weak we are when we try to change them. Although the plot structure sometimes exceeds the bounds of plausibility, this is storytelling of a high order. The reader on this recording tries too hard: characters tend to sniff, quaver and squeak. But when you get used to that, and begin to tune it out, the story comes through with steady hypnotic power. Highly recommended.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

If you like Mankell . . .

. . . 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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A Disappointment

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.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Wallander: a real, complicated man.

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.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not Mankell's best

I don't think this book requires a long review. It's an interesting addition to the chronology of the Wallander series but I found it to be rather too long, over-plotted and marred by a silly ending. The performance by Dick Hlll is adequate but I think another reader could've done more justice to this book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great Yarn

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

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

OK but others are better

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, inadequate narrator

After watching the original Wallander series with Swedish subtitles and the Kenneth Branagh version and enjoying both, I decided to read one of the books. It delivered on the writing but not the narrator. His voice is lovely and modulated as the narrator and inside Wallander’s head, but his choices for some of the characters were almost unbearable. I had set it aside after chapter 7 a few months ago but took it up again,starting over, forgetting why I had stopped the first time. Ouch! I continued to the end but will avoid future titles with this reader. The translation seems a bit clunky too. I hate writing a negative review but appreciate them when trying to choose a title.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent

After dealing with a Swedish-South African apartheid murder/assassin case that takes Wallander to the brink of his resolve, in this latest case we meet him at a point when he's decided to quit the police force. Alas, expectedly, he's pulled back in when an old friend comes to ask for help. Soon there's a car accident that turns out to be a bizarre murder, assassin-style killings, a mine buried in a garden - and an attack on Wallander's life ... all of this is told in Mankell's signature-style, slowly, methodically, broodingly. A great story and a barely visible and untouchable bad guy.

Also, Dick Hill does a great job reading these Wallander novels.