Friday, 27 February 2009

The Man Who Smiled

I really like Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander mysteries. My friend Dave got me into reading them a few years ago when I first started getting interested in reading crime stories and noir, and The Man Who Smiled is the third Wallander novel I've read. I think that the brilliant thing about reading these stories is the setting and the atmosphere that Mankell creates. The crimes are well thought out, as is the description of the way that Wallander and the team in Ystad eventually solve them. The main draw for me is the way that you feel like you are there with him as he follows the clues and makes the deductions that lead him to the answer.

When he is on the job, Kurt Wallander eats poorly, sleeps little and gradually becomes more and more dishevelled. His personal life is an endless series of thoughts to call his family - which he invariably puts of to later - and reflections on why he became a police officer (he can't remember any more). In The Man Who Smiled, he begins his journey even more lost than usual. Wallander has taken a leave of absence that has lasted over a year, ever since he had to take a man's life in self-defence. On the day that he is to officially resign he discovers that a friend of his has been murdered, and in an instant he decides to return to work, and so the cycle begins again for him.

The Man Who Smiled is a good mystery story, although perhaps not the best place to start for people who've not read any of the other Wallander novels. You should definitely try One Step Behind if you get the chance, which is a fantastic mystery story, again permeated by the brilliant atmosphere that Mankell expertly builds up.

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