Herbert Molin, a retired police officer, lives alone in a remote cottage in northern Sweden. Two things seem to consume him; his passion for the tango, and an obsession with the "demons" he believes to be pursuing him. Early one morning shots shatter Molin's window- by the time his body is found it is almost unrecognisable.
Stefan Lindman is another off-the-job police officer. On extended sick leave due to having cancer of the tongue Lindman hears about the murder of his former colleague and, in a bid to take his mind off his own problems, decides to investigate.
As his investigation becomes increasingly complex it is with both horror and disbelief that Lindman uncovers links to a global web of neo-Nazi activity.
Written with all the usual flair so highly commended by Mankell fans this intricate crime novel, with its cast of new characters, heralds the end of the Kurt Wallander Mysteries and yet, ultimately, it leads the story back to Wallander's Ystad where a new outstanding series of thrillers can begin.
©2003 Henning Mankell (P)2009 Random House Audio
I admit to being among the vast army of Wallender fans and approached this somewhat tentatively as a holiday listen. Detective fiction is not my first choice but I have had lots of it recommended to me recently by enthusiastic friends and relatives. As a result I was also reading a couple of other best selling detective novels by well known authors during the same period. It was clear to me that Mankell is in a class of his own. The plot, characterisation and literary style in this made the others seem somewhat childish and predictable. I have read a couple of other novels recently about neo fascism and WWII collaboration in Scandinavia and again "The Return of the Dancing Master" stands out as more perceptive and thought provoking. This is a mature and intelligent dissection of motivation and a balanced attempt to explain what went on and what is going on. As well as being a deeply satisfying intellectual work it also keeps you hooked until the last word. A special word of appreciation for the narrator on this recording: Sean Barrett's very subtle use of regional British accents to mirror similar cultural differences within Sweden is well judged and adds greatly to the listening experience.
This was my first Mankell book and I deliberately chose one which wasnt a Wallender book. The story simply pulls you in, fascinatingly revealing modern life and that of the past, and the intersection points where the two collide. I simply had to finish the story, and I wasnt disappointed in the ending.
the narration is particularly important and in this case was well up to the job. Completely loved it.
"Couldn't stop listening!"
The best Henning Mankell book I have listened to. I loved the context and complexities of the story. It was totally absorbing and brilliantly narrated. It remained a cliff hanger right up to the end. The events made me reflect on my understanding of war, politics, evil and revenge. The characters were very credible and portrayed the full range of human emotions, feelings and responses regardless of their actions. Excellent!
"Scandie Crime at it's best."
This is my first Henning Mankell novel without Kurt Wallander, and I have to say this is as good as any of the Wallander books.
Set in northern Sweden, an isolated, sparsly inhabited area, a place where it is easy to hide and difficult to police. The murder of aformer coleague brings a police officer, who is on sick leave, awaiting the start of treatment for cancer. His trip north finds him enbroiled in two bizzare murders, that appear to have their origins in the past.
This is Mankell at his best, he brings to life this dark, heavily forrested area of Sweden, giving the reader a real sense of the isolation and community that such a harsh environment demands. The story is well crafted, great, well defined characters. The main character is not only drawn into this complex murder investigation, but is dealing with his own demons as he faces his own mortality, as he awaits the start of his cancer treatment.
If you enjoy a good crime thriller then I urge you to read this book.
"Just as good as Wallander"
When, eventually, I got to the end of Henning Mankel's Wallander stories on Audible, I felt a genuine tinge of sadness. They are, for me, along with the Rebus books by Ian Rankin and the Harry Bosch books by Michael Connelly, the high points of modern crime fiction. They are, in fact, much more than genre novels. I knew that, in due course, I could listen again to the Wallander stories and it would be worth it to do so. Now here is a new Mankel story with a different hero, but with a similar mixture of passion, irony and and existential angst. It is also a rattling good read and a complex 'whodunit' with a lead character, Stefan Lindeman, who is just as sad, funny and fascinating as Wallander. Highly reccommended.
"An excellent listen"
I always enjoy Mankell's work, and I found this one particularly gripping. The character depth was excellent as ever, and the plot keeps you hanging on to every word. Sean Barrett narration was another of the things that made this audiobook for me. The voices were well chosen and consistent, and always believable.
If you are a newcomer to Scandinavian crime, this is a cracking choice to become acquainted with one of the original and most formidable authors of the genre.
Another classic dective tale from the pen (or computer) of Henning Mankell. It seems that these scandinavian writers can get it right almost all of the time. A thoroughly good book.
"A Scandinavian tale"
I think one has to be a greater fan of the current style of Scandinavian crime tales - a well told tale but rather lugubrious tone.
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