The Man Who Smiled (Kurt Wallander Series #4)

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Overview

The Man Who Smiled begins with Wallander deep in a personal and professional crisis after killing a man in the line of duty; eventually, he vows to quit the Ystad police force for good. Just then, however, a friend who had asked Wallander to look into the death of his father winds up dead himself, shot three times. Ann-Britt Höglund, the department's first female detective, proves to be his best ally as he tries to pierce the smiling façade of his prime suspect, a powerful multinational business tycoon. But just ...
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The Man Who Smiled (Kurt Wallander Series #4)

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Overview

The Man Who Smiled begins with Wallander deep in a personal and professional crisis after killing a man in the line of duty; eventually, he vows to quit the Ystad police force for good. Just then, however, a friend who had asked Wallander to look into the death of his father winds up dead himself, shot three times. Ann-Britt Höglund, the department's first female detective, proves to be his best ally as he tries to pierce the smiling façade of his prime suspect, a powerful multinational business tycoon. But just as he comes close to uncovering the truth, the same shadowy threats responsible for the murders close in on Wallander himself.All of Mankell's talents as a master of the modern police procedural - which have earned him legions of fans worldwide - are showcased in The Man Who Smiled, which is the fourth of the eight Wallander books published thus far in English.
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Editorial Reviews

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The 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
Marilyn Stasio
When the bleak landscapes of Henning Mankell’s Swedish police procedurals start to look like home, it’s time to head for the hills. Either that, or confront the grim truths about modern society that give weight to this author’s absorbing but disquieting existential mysteries.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
First published in Sweden in 1994, Mankell's terrific fourth Kurt Wallender mystery opens with the kind of startling image typical of this internationally bestselling series (Firewall, etc.): a lawyer, driving home through the fog, stops after he sees "a human-sized effigy" propped on a chair in the middle of a deserted highway. Gustaf Torstensson gets out of the car to investigate, is hit from behind and was "dead before his body hit the damp asphalt." The police accept the assailant's claim that it was an accident, but when Torstensson's son, Sten, is shot dead just two weeks later, the brooding Wallender, who's on sick leave and vowing to retire from the Ystad police force, decides to pursue the killer and resume his career. The chief suspect a powerful, globe-trotting Swedish businessman who's the smiling man of the title leads Wallender on an exquisitely plotted search for motive and evidence. Dark and moody, this is crime fiction of the highest order. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Detective Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander, on sick leave for more than a year after killing a man in self-defense, is drinking too much and contemplating resigning. Then a lawyer friend, questioning whether his father's death was accidental, appeals to Wallander for help. When this friend is murdered just days later, Wallander's investigative juices get flowing, and he's back on the job, zeroing in on title character Alfred Harderberger, a wealthy businessman. But only painstaking police work-a keynote of European writer Mankell's thrillers, this time involving complex financial dealings-can confirm Wallander's suspicions. While any Kurt Wallander appearance is a pleasure, this volume is out of sequence: published in 1994 as the fourth in the series, it includes Wallander's father, whose death he grieved in previously translated books; a colleague murdered in One Step Behind; a woman whose relationship with Wallander is long over; and Ann-Britt Hoglund as a rookie (causing the inspector to ponder the future of police work). An essential purchase for mystery collections, this may disappoint Mankell fans who enjoy the changes and character development of a sequential series.-Michele Leber, Arlington, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Compelling . . . skillfully plotted and suspenseful. . . . A thriller for the thinking reader.”
Dallas Morning News

“Mankell’s novels are a joy.”
USA Today

“Absorbing. . . . In the masterly manner of P.D. James, Mankell projects his hero's brooding thoughts onto nature itself.”
The New York Times

“Wallander is a loveable gumshoe. . . . He is one of the most credible creations in contemporary crime fiction.”
The Guardian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459617704
  • Publisher: ReadHowYouWant, LLC
  • Publication date: 4/22/2011
  • Series: Kurt Wallander Series , #4
  • Edition description: Large Print 16pt
  • Pages: 582
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Henning Mankell

Internationally acclaimed author Henning Mankell has written nine Kurt Wallander mysteries. The books have been published in thirty-three countries and consistently top the bestseller lists in Europe, receiving major literary prizes (including the UK's Golden Dagger for Sidetracked) and generating numerous international film and television adaptations. He has also published many other novels for children, teens, and adults. In addition, he is one of Sweden's most popular dramatists.

Born in 1948, Mankell grew up in the Swedish village Sveg. He now divides his time between Sweden and Maputo, Mozambique, where he works as a director at Teatro Avenida. He has spent many years in Africa, where a number of his novels are set.

Biography

Henning Mankell was born in Stockholm in 1948. He is the author of many works of fiction, including the nine novels in the Kurt Wallander series. He has worked as an actor, theatre director, and manager in Sweden and in Mozambique -- where he is now head of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo.

Author biography courtesy of The Random House Group.

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    1. Hometown:
      Mozambique, Africa
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 3, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Stockholm, Sweden
    1. Education:
      Folkskolan Elementary Shool, Sveg; Högre Allmäna Läroverket, Borås

Read an Excerpt

The Man Who Smiled


By Henning Mankell

Vintage

Copyright © 2007 Henning Mankell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781400095834

Fog.
A silent, stealthy beast of prey. Even though I have lived all my life in SkŒne, where fog is forever closing in and shutting out the world, I’ll never get used to it.

9 p.m., October 11, 1993.

Fog came rolling in from the sea. He was driving home to Ystad and had just passed Br?sarp Hills when he found himself in the thick of the white mass.

Fear overcame him right away.

I’m frightened of fog, he thought. I should be scared of the man I have just been to see at Farnholm Castle instead. The friendly man whose menacing staff always lurk in the background, their faces in the shadows. I should be thinking about him and what I now know is hidden behind that friendly smile. His impeccable standing in the community, above the very least suspicion. He is the one I should be frightened of, not the fog drifting in from Han? Bay. Not now that I have discovered that he would not hesitate to kill anyone who gets in his way.

He turned on the wipers to try to clear the windshield. He did not like driving in the dark. He particularly disliked it when rabbits scurried this way and that in the headlights.

Once, more than thirty years ago, he had run over a hare. It was on the Tomelilla road, one evening in early spring. He could still remember stamping his footdown on the brake pedal, but then a dull thud against the bodywork. He had stopped and got out. The hare was lying on the road, its back legs kicking. The upper part of its body was paralyzed, but its eyes stared at him. He had had to force himself to find a heavy stone from the verge, and had shut his eyes as he threw it down onto the hare’s head. He had hurried back to the car without looking again at the animal.

He had never forgotten those eyes and those wildly kicking legs. The memory kept coming back, again and again, usually at the most unexpected times.

He tried now to put the unpleasantness behind him. A hare that died all of thirty years ago can haunt a man, but it can’t harm him, he thought. I have more than enough worries about people still in the land of the living.

He noticed that he was checking his rearview mirror more often than usual.

I’m frightened, he thought again, and I have only just realized that I am running away. I am running from what I know is hidden behind the walls of Farnholm Castle. And they know that I know. But how much? Enough for them to be afraid that I’ll break the oath of silence I once took as a newly qualified lawyer? A long time ago that was, when an oath was just that: a sacred commitment to professional secrecy. Are they nervous about their old lawyer’s conscience?
Nothing in the rearview mirror. He was alone in the fog, but in under an hour he would be back in Ystad.

The thought cheered him, if only for a moment. So they weren’t following him after all. He had made up his mind what he was going to do tomorrow. He would talk to his son, who was also his colleague and a partner in the legal practice. There was always a solution, that was something life had taught him. There had to be one this time too.

He groped on the unlit dashboard for the radio. The car filled with a man’s voice talking about the latest research in genetics. Words passed through his brain without his taking them in. He checked his watch: nearly 9:30. Still no one behind him, but the fog seemed to be getting even thicker. Nevertheless, he pressed down on the accelerator a little harder. The further he was from Farnholm Castle, the calmer he felt. Perhaps, after all, he had nothing to fear.

He forced himself to think clearly.

It had begun with a perfectly ordinary telephone call, a message on his desk asking him to contact a man about a contract that urgently needed verifying. He did not recognize the name, but had taken the initiative and made the call: a small law practice in an insignificant Swedish town could not afford to reject a potential client. He could recall even now the voice on the phone: polite, with a northern accent, but at the same time giving the impression of a man who measured out his life in terms of what each minute cost. He had explained the task, a complicated transaction involving a shipping line registered in Corsica and a number of cement cargoes to Saudi Arabia, where one of his companies was acting as an agent for Skanska. There had been some vague, passing reference to an enormous mosque that was to be built in Khamis Mushayt. Or maybe it was a university building in Jeddah.

They had met a few days later at the Continental Hotel in Ystad. He had arrived there early, and the restaurant was not yet open for lunch; he had sat at a table in the corner and watched the man arrive. The only other person there was a Yugoslav waiter staring gloomily out of the window. It was the middle of January, a gale was blowing in from the Baltic, and it would soon be snowing. But the man approaching him was suntanned. He wore a dark blue suit and was definitely no more than fifty. Somehow, he did not belong either in Ystad or in the January weather. He was a stranger, with a smile that did not belong to that suntanned face.

That was the first time he had set eyes on the man from Farnholm Castle. A man without baggage, in a discrete world of his own, in a blue, tailor-made suit, everything centering on a smile, and an alarming pair of shadowy satellites buzzing attentively but in the background.

Oh yes, the shadows had been there even then. He could not recall either of them being introduced. They sat at a table on the other side of the room, and rose without a word when their master’s meeting was over.

Golden days, he thought, bitterly, and I was stupid enough to believe in it. A lawyer’s vision of the world should not be influenced by the illusion of a paradise to come, not here on earth at least. Within six months the suntanned man had come to be responsible for half of the practice’s turnover, and in a year the firm’s income had doubled. Bills were paid promptly, it was never necessary to send a reminder. They had been able to afford to redecorate their offices. The man at Farnholm Castle seemed to be managing his business in every corner of the world, and from places that seemed to be chosen more or less at random. Faxes and telephone calls, even the occasional radio transmission, came from the strangest-sounding towns, some he could only with difficulty find on the globe next to the leather sofa in the reception area. But everything had been aboveboard, albeit complex.

The new age has dawned, he remembered thinking. So this is what it’s like. As a lawyer, I have to be grateful that the man at Farnholm picked my name from the telephone book.

His train of recollections was cut short. For a moment he thought he was imagining it, but then he clearly made out the headlights in the rearview mirror.

They had crept up on him.

Fear struck him immediately. They had followed him after all. They were afraid he would betray his oath of silence.

His first reaction was to accelerate away through the fog. Sweat broke out on his forehead. The headlights were on his tail. Shadows that kill, he thought. I’ll never get away, just as none of the others did.

The car passed him. He caught a glimpse of the driver’s face, an old man. Then the red taillights vanished into the fog.

He took out a handkerchief and wiped his face and neck.

I’ll soon be home, he thought. Nothing is going to happen. Mrs Dun?r has recorded in my diary that I was to be at Farnholm today. Nobody, not even he, would send his henchmen to kill off his own elderly lawyer on the way home from a meeting. It would be far too risky.

It was nearly two years before he first realized that something untoward was going on. It was an insignificant assignment, checking contracts that involved the Swedish Trade Council as guarantors for a considerable sum of money. Spare parts for turbines in Poland, combine harvesters for Czechoslovakia. It was a minor detail, some figures that didn’t add up. He thought it was probably a misprint, maybe somewhere two digits had been muddled. He had gone through it all again and realized that it was no accident, it was all intentional. Nothing was missing, everything was correct, but the upshot was horrifying. His first instinct had been not to believe it. He had leaned back in his chair–it was late in the evening, he recalled–taking in that there was no doubt that he had uncovered a crime. It was dawn before he had set out to walk the streets of Ystad, and by the time he reached Stortorget he had reluctantly accepted that there was no alternative explanation: the man at Farnholm Castle was guilty of a gross breach of trust regarding the Trade Council, of tax evasion, and of a whole string of forgeries.

After that he had constantly been on the lookout for the black holes in every document emanating from Farnholm. And he found them–not every time, but more often than not. The extent of the criminality had slowly dawned on him. He tried not to acknowledge the evidence he could not avoid registering, but in the end he had to face up to the facts. But on the other hand he had done nothing about it. He had not even told his son. Was this because, deep down, he preferred to believe it wasn’t true? Nobody else, apparently not even the tax authorities, had noticed anything. Perhaps he had uncovered a secret that was purely hypothetical? Or was it that it was all too late anyway, now that the man from Farnholm Castle was the principal source of income for the firm?

The fog was more or less impenetrable now. He hoped it might lift as he got nearer to Ystad.

He couldn’t go on like this, that was certain. Not now that he knew that the man had blood on his hands.

He would talk to his son. The rule of law still applied in Sweden, for heaven’s sake, even though it seemed to be undermined and diluted day by day. His own complaisance had been a part of that process. His having turned a blind eye for so long was no reason for remaining silent now.

He would never bring himself to commit suicide.

Suddenly he saw something in the headlights. He slammed on the brakes. At first he thought it was a hare. Then he realized there was something in the road.

He turned on his brights.

It was a chair, in the middle of the road. A simple kitchen chair. Sitting on it was a human-sized effigy. Its face was white.

Or could it be a real person made up like a tailor’s dummy?

He felt his heart starting to pound. Fog swirled in the light of his headlamps. There was no way he could shut out the chair and the effigy. Nor could he ignore his mounting fear. He checked his rearview mirror. Nothing. He drove slowly forward until the chair and the effigy were no more than ten meters from the car. Then he stopped again.


The dummy looked impressively like a human being. Not just some kind of hastily put-together scarecrow. It’s for me, he thought. He switched off the radio, his hand trembling, and pricked up his ears. Fog, and silence. He didn’t know what to do next.

What made him hesitate was not the chair out there in the fog, nor the ghostly effigy. There was something else, something in the background, something he couldn’t make out. Something that probably existed only inside himself.

I’m very frightened, he said to himself, and fear is undermining my ability to think straight.

Finally, he undid his seat belt and opened the door. He was surprised by how cool it felt outside. He got out, his eyes fixed on the chair and the dummy lit up by the car’s headlights. His last thought was that it reminded him of a stage set with an actor about to make his entrance.

He heard a noise behind him, but he didn’t turn. The blow caught him on the back of his head.

He was dead before his body hit the damp asphalt.

It was 9:53 p.m. The fog was now very dense.

Continues...

Excerpted from The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell Copyright © 2007 by Henning Mankell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2006

    I am so happy that English speakers also can meet this marvellous writer!

    I find this book very, very good. I love Mankell's way of writing - the crimes are horrible, the way to solve them very well written, the solutions so clever but also quite natural - he is not one of those, who seem to write thrillers only in order to surprise his readers with strange endings. Mankell also let us enjoy clear descriptions of the people you encounter they really come to life. Mr Wallander, the police man, is a well known person to me and everyone else who reads the books. We have come to know his way of behaving, be aware of his hardships and weaknesses as well as his strenghts and so much more about him. Hs relationship with his daughter and with his father is like stories in themselves. Wallander isn't a totally likable hero more of a real person - but he is still my hero anyway. Mankell can really bring Ystad and their police to life. As a Swede, I have read those books since they were first published and I keep longing for more. I congratulate all of you who are new comers to his books and I hope that you will be as addicted as me, because it is a sheer joy to read his books. I recommend them all - but please be aware that they include detailed descriptions of violence beside all the other masterful

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2011

    Best so far.

    I read Faceless Killers and Dogs of Riga, but missed the White Liones. This book was a nice change of pace from the first two books in the series, which I loved. This book changes the format a bit. You'll love the way this book unfolds. Kurt Wallander is the man.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2014

    Wow

    You will always struggle with when to stop in these books. Wallander becomes such an easy character to want to dive into the thoughts of.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2012

    It seems that with every Wallander novel the protagonist is fles

    It seems that with every Wallander novel the protagonist is fleshed out
    more and more. Considering the genre this is quite an achievement. Add
    to that the fact that the story is extremely interesting and you have
    one hell of a novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2011

    ...

    ...

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2006

    Another one that left me wanting more...

    This installment in the Kurt Wallander series was definitely more plausible than others (The White Lioness, for example). I've read the French edition of the novel and found it developed the main character even greater. This story begins during Wallander's longest hiatus from the police force. An alcohol addiction and depression threaten his life. He has almost decided to end his police career when a friend joins him on a remote beach. Will Wallander decide to continue to serve the public as a detective or detach himself forever from his work? The gruesome murder of the friend who just days before asked for his help guides his decision. Ultimately, he makes the right choice. Wallander could never be anything but a chief inspector who uses all of this wits to capture the most unlikely murderers in the world.

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