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
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
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.
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.
“Compelling . . . skillfully plotted and suspenseful. . . . A thriller for the thinking reader.”
—Dallas Morning News
“Mankell’s novels are a joy.”
“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.”