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The Man from Beijing

Average Rating 3
( 214 )
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(43)

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(58)

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(44)

2 Star

(38)

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(31)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

A Story Well Told

I cannot believe that, at my age, it took me so long to read a book by Henning Mankell.I am glad that The Man From Beijing was the first.
I love to read books with mystery and suspense. More than anything, though, I like a story whose plot and characters keep me intere...
I cannot believe that, at my age, it took me so long to read a book by Henning Mankell.I am glad that The Man From Beijing was the first.
I love to read books with mystery and suspense. More than anything, though, I like a story whose plot and characters keep me interested. I would not call this book a mystery. We know early on who is behind the mass murder in a small Swedish village. The story's suspense, though, did not keep me on the edge of my seat. It kept my nose in the book.
In all, I found the characters interesting and the storytelling outstanding. Like me, you will be happy you read this book.

posted by lakesinger2591 on February 16, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Disjointed plot

I have been disapointed in Mr. Mankell's last two books - SHADOW OF THE LEOPARD - and THE MAN FROM BEIJING. I had a hard time pulling this split story together. Interesting enough, but it took him way too long to connect the plot.

posted by 1038630 on March 28, 2010

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  • Posted January 11, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Interesting take on China in Africa...

    Mankell is a master, and those readers that like his writing will see his control and skill displayed here. But Mankell reaches a little for the premise in this mystery. It could be an interesting prod to inventiveness in a writing class: include China in your next writing assignment. This mystery becomes a little unwieldy and farfetched when it goes back over several continents and several generations in Part 2, but Mankell comes back in Part 3 to something much more interesting: a discussion of the economic and political changes taking place in a rapidly modernizing China, and a slowly deteriorating Africa. Especially interesting are ruminations on China in Africa. If readers remember Le Carre's last couple of books set in Africa, The Mission Song and The Constant Gardner, this a polemic similar, but comes off a little better.

    Anyhow, some comfort reading for those who are going to read Mankell regardless. Scandanavia still seems cold and remote, Beijing fast and flashy, Africa hot but beautiful.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2010

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    Unusual and Intriguing!

    I found this book to be a fascinating and intriguing mystery. It is certainly global in its outreach, as the pages take the reader from Sweden to China, the United States, and even Zimbabwe.

    The obvious plot line of this book relates to the solving of the mytery of the mass murders in a quiet village in Sweden. In my opinion, a more intriguing plot development involves the personal life of Judge Birgitta Roslin. The Judge finds herself embroiled in the murder investigation while also dealing with major issues in her personal life. She must try to resolve personal health issues as well as the seemingly deteriorating condition of her longterm marriage. Other topics I found of interest were the social adjustment to the aging process, re-awakening old friendships, and evaluating one's philosophical and political ideals as the currents of life stream past.

    This was most definitely a compelling read. Mystery and thriller lovers will delight in this story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fast paced thriller

    Takes a while to get into this book, but well worth the wait. It's far better if you've read Mankell before, but not important. 'The Man from Beijing' sees Henning Mankell move away
    from his Kurt Wallander Swedish police procedural novels
    to produce a fast paced and international political mystery. Worth the money on the jacket.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2010

    Murder in al small village in Sweden

    The brutal murder of most all the residence of a small village in Sweden starts the reader on a saga that will circle the glob and cover over 150 years. It will tell of the treatment of Chinese workers on the Trans Continental Railroad, through a plot by members in the highest levels of the Republic of China government to wil control of large portions of Africa as a way to deal with its population expolsion and unrest. The writer has melled all these factors into a story that will keep the reader turing pages to the very end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2010

    A world of coincidence

    On page 328 of THE MAN FROM BEIJING, Henning Mankell writes, as part of a conversation, "We are still embroiled in a large-scale investigation with lots of complicated details." This pretty much describes the book. It starts with the murders of 18 elderly people and 1 child in a hamlet in Sweden in 2006. By the time the story ends, the reader has been to China in 1863, Nevada during the building of the transcontinental railroad, back to China still in the 19th century but then slips into 2006, back to modern day Sweden, then back to China, and, finally, returning to Sweden after a momentous sidetrip to Africa and a significant pause in London.

    Mankell writes so well that the reader can actually keep all of this straight. When all is said and done, THE MAN FROM BEIJING is not about international travel or politics (although Mankell writes reams about the politics and economics of China). It is about two families and the collision of their lives in 19th century Nevada. Two brothers from China, San and Guo Si, are worked mercilessly by the Swedish supervisor of their crew, Jan August Andren. When San returns to China he begins to write every detail of his life. He doesn't know if he will ever have someone in his family who will want to read it but he continues his task for the rest of his life.

    In Sweden, Birgitta Roslin, a judge, learns that she is related to the Andren family, brutally killed in their homes. Birgitta is drawn to the murder scene and, as a judge, is given considerable latitude at the crime scene. In the house, she finds an old journal written by JA Andren and outside, in the snow, she finds a red ribbon. Birgitta chooses to eat in a Chinese restaurant and she notices that the red ribbon hanging from a lantern over her table is an exact match to the ribbon from the crime scene. In fact, a red ribbon is missing from a lantern over another table.

    In present day China, Ya Ru, highly successful and a major player in moving China to capitalism, has been studying the journal of his ancestor, San. Thus begins the dueling recollections of the ancestors and, assisted by an inordinate number of coincidences, Birgitta and Ya Ru move toward a confrontation.

    This is not a Wallender book. It is entertaining and worth reading as long as the reader doesn't expect everything to make sense. Sometimes, major issues are resolved so smoothly that I almost missed them. Mankell offers up plenty of information about the characters but I didn't find myself caring very much about any of them. Birgitta is the main character but Hong Qiu, an important figure in China, is more interesting.

    Read and enjoy the book for what it is, an quick and somewhat engrossing stand-alone by Henning Mankell. Mankell is always a great writer. But don't expect this to be on the same level as the Kurt Wallender series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    Highly recommended

    Being of Swedish descent, I was intrigued by hearing of another Swedish mystery writer. The book was recommended to me by someone. Since I had read all of the Larsson novels, I was ready to try a new one. It is a great book. The story line is a real "grabber". I will read more of Mankell's novels.

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  • Posted April 6, 2011

    enjoyable read

    I loved the book, but i do have some criticisms. I don't think the author pulled off the historic journal entries. they seemed more infirmative than personal. I'm not sure the politcal rants would have bothered me if I weren't aware of Mankell's personal extremist views, but since I do, the rants took on a new meaning. They weren't overly inappropriate, but I'm not into ranting.

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  • Posted August 25, 2010

    An engrossing international mystery.

    I enjoyed this book very much and finished it pretty quickly (for me). Some chapters were truly "can't put it down". There were some moments of tenuous logic, but mostly it was well plotted out. It grabs you immediately right in the very first pages. I enjoyed the international and time spanning connections. I highly recommend it. It'll keep you wondering what will happen next.

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  • Posted July 21, 2010

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    The Plot Leaves You in the Red

    Another crime novel from scandinavia, and another great writer! I guess, with the long boring winters you can do nothing, other than play on the ice or on the bed or read and write or play chess. Henning Mankell's prose sings in "The Man from Beijing." His first chapter 'The Epitaph' is a briliant hook that drags you into the icy wonderland of murders,intrigue and mystery. This begining, as well as much of the book is a lesson on crime fiction crafting, however I believe that he gives the mystery away too early, around the middle of the book, rendering the end as an anticlimax. Though rich in the fundamentals of crafting and technique, it frustrates the reader at the plot and characters level. The protagonist of this book is a mild mannered, diffident and hesitant female judge called Birgitta Roslin who accidentally discovers murders of distant relatives and gets drawn into a paper train and chase mystery that takes the reader from a small village in upper Sweden to China to America to bouncing around Africa. This heroine is the antithesis to Stieg Larsson's heroine, Lisbeth Salander. The plot is a triangular recycling of immigration, hard labor, resentments, grudges, revenge and murder spanning over a hundred years from Sweden to America to China and Africa. The beautiful rendering of rural Sweden, to the hectic pace of China and the politics of progress in Africa is akin to eating gelato by the Amalfi coast, the disappointment comes in with surrounding characters development. The shortlived photographer in the begining who loses his Leica M6, which is never found by the police, the forensics never offer what ate the victim's leg, a chilling spectacle no less, and most of all the police characters were almost unfinished. The female character Sundberg makes a great start, the reader is tantalized by her presence, but suddenly her development is retarded, as if she is deficient of the pituitary gland. The police work is presented inconclusively, as if the author meant it to be inept. Then, the villain, a chinese character called Ya Ru, cold blooded and ultra vindictive is efficient, but again incomplete, till he decides to do the killing of the protagonist in the end. Even with these deficiences, it is a great prose read with an invisible link of two diaries that provide the tug-of-war of emotions and a tightrope for action.
    I sincerely recommend Henning Mankell's "The Man from Beijing." Review by Raju Peddada

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2010

    Better translation and editing please!

    This is a great story by a master story teller. However, the translation is stilted and is stylistically lacking which is distracting to the overall flow of the book. Better editing might have made the reading better. For example, why use Roslin or Birgitta in some places and Birgitta Roslin in others? Grammatical errors abound as well. In the end, however, I a giving this 4 stars because the story is fascinating and probably a much better read in Swedish. If the translation was better, I would have given this 5 stars.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    from sweden to america to china!!

    enjoyed it. recommended to all my family readers.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    A bit offbeat

    I enjoyed this book, but was a bit wondering how the title tied in with the murders in Scandanavia for quite a while. Actually I felt that the book read more like two separate novels with two separate story lines, even after the author tied them together. Seemed a real stretch to make it believable. But I did enjoy the book.

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