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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In the latest Kurt Wallander mystery to be translated from Swedish into English, novelist Henning Mankell (Faceless Killers, The Dogs of Riga, et al.) pits the brooding Scandinavian chief inspector -- on an extended leave of absence and seriously contemplating retirement -- against a savvy murder suspect who may just be Wallander's ultimate nemesis.
More than a year after killing a man in the line of duty, Wallander's time off has done nothing to heal his psychological wounds. Still racked with guilt and suffering from severe depression, the almost 50-year-old Ystad chief inspector has finally resolved to quit the force. But then a listing in the obituary section of the morning paper forces him to reevaluate his decision. Weeks earlier an old acquaintance -- a man named Sten Torstensson -- had approached Wallander asking for his help concerning the reportedly accidental death of his father, a prominent lawyer whom Torstensson believed was murdered. All but retired at the time, Wallander declined; but now, Torstensson himself has turned up dead, shot three times execution-style. Wallander returns to work to solve the double homicide. But as the investigation progresses, a prime suspect turns out to be a very powerful and highly unscrupulous Swedish businessman whose financial influence just may put him above the law…
The gloomy weather permeating The Man Who Smiled ("Fog. A silent, stealthy beast of prey…forever closing in and shutting out the world") serves as an apt metaphor for Wallander's personal battles with his past, alcoholism, depression, etc. Discerning mystery fans who like their whodunits served cold should definitely check out this outstanding Nordic saga. Paul Goat Allen