Home | Reviews | Blog | Daily | Glossary | Orrin's Stuff | Email

Fans of Henning Mankell know one thing for sure when they pick up this 4th book in the Kurt Wallander series, the Inspector is not the smiling man of the title. Indeed, as the story opens, Wallander seems to be trying to dose himself with AIDs or some venereal disease as he pursues a newfound mania for sex tourism. He's never recovered from the experience of killing a man in on his last case, The White Lioness. In fact, he turns away an acquaintance, Sten Torstensson, who is suspicious of the circumstances of his own father's death. But when the son is shot and killed soon after it provides the impetus Wallander needs to return to police work.

What follows isn't much of a mystery--it quickly becomes apparent that the global businessmen who was basically the elder Torstensson's only client is behind the killings. Rather, the power that this man who smiled wields and the ruthlessness with which he conducts business offer Mankell a platform to criticize the globalized capitalism that was coming to Sweden in the 90s. And the possibility that justice will not be done is especially haunting for Wallander in the wake of the botched investigation into Olaf Palme's assassination.

The resulting book is sufficiently didactic that newcomers to the series probably oughtn't start with it. But fans won't be particularly bothered.


Grade: (B)


See also:

Henning Mankell (2 books reviewed)
Henning Mankell Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: is the site for English-speaking fans of Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander Mystery series
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Henning Mankell (IMDB)
    -BOOK SITE: The Man Who Smiled (Inspector
    -GOOGLE BOOK: The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell
    -INTERVIEW: Henning Mankell interview: His melancholy detective Kurt Wallander started a boom in ‘Scandi’ crime fiction. So why is he ditching him? (John Preston, 21 Mar 2011, The Telegraph)
    -INTERVIEW: Will author really take Wallander off the case? (John Timpane, 4/05/11, Philadelphia INQUIRER)
    -INTERVIEW: Henning Mankell: 'No One Is Born Evil': In a SPIEGEL interview, bestselling Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell talks about his reaction to the Utøya massacre, the absurdity of Anders Breivik's ideas and the need to engage in dialogue with the right wing. (Der Spiegel)
    -Interview: Henning Mankell, author: MOVE over, Wallander – Henning Mankell tells DAVID ROBINSON why his latest fictional detective owes a lot to his own father (David Robinson, 2/13/10, The Scotsman)
    -PROFILE: The 50 Greatest Crime Writers, No 49: Henning Mankell (Times of London, 4/17/08)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Henning Mankell (Mark Lawson, 1/10/02, BBC4)
    -PROFILE: Henning Mankell: Chronicle of a death foretold: Sweden's biggest literary export since Strindberg, has for decades led a double life. His latest book pays tribute to his African inspiration (Independent, 4/07/06)
    -INTERVIEW: "Western Apathy Towards Africa Keeps Me Awake at Night": Swedish best-selling mystery author and longtime Africa resident Henning Mankell, 56, discusses the anatomy of poverty in Africa, the AIDS epidemic and the breakdown of international aid to developing countries. (Der Spiegel, 12/14/04)
    -INTERVIEW: All along the watchtower: Henning Mankell tells Nick Hasted how he watches over Sweden from Africa (Nick Hasted, January 12, 2002, The Guardian)
    -INTERVIEW: 'She was so full of life, spirits, energy' (Sean French, September 14, 2003, The Observer)
    -PROFILE: The rich language of death is universal (A.N. Wilson, 3/24/03, Daily Telegraph)
    -PROFILE: Killing them in Europe (Donald Dewey, Autumn 2003, Scandinavian Review)
    -PROFILE: Inspector Norse...: A portly cop in bleakest Scandinavia makes an unlikely thriller hero. But Henning Mankell's novels are the best Swedish export since flatpack furniture (Nicci Gerrard, March 2, 2003, The Observer)
    -PROFILE: True crime: Henning Mankell was raised by his father, a judge, in a flat above a courtroom, and has had an interest in legal systems since childhood. He worked as a merchant seaman and a stagehand before turning to fiction. Now, as the author of an acclaimed series of detective novels, he divides his time between his native Sweden and Mozambique, where he runs a theatre (Ian Thomson, November 1, 2003, The Guardian )
    -PROFILE: Murder in a Cold Climate (MARGO JEFFERSON, April 14, 2002, , NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell (Michael; C. Moynihan, WSJ)
    -REVIEW: of The Troubled Man (Jake Kerridge, The Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Troubled Man (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Troubled Man (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell (Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Before the Frost by Henning Mankell (Joan Smith, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The White Lioness by Henning Mankell (John Mullan, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of One Step Behind by Henning Mankell (Mark Lawson, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of One Step Behind by Henning Mankell (Sarah Crompton, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell (Maggie Gee, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Firewall by Henning Mankell (M John Harrison, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Firewall (Stephen Robinson, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell (Louise France, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Return of the Dancing Master, by Henning Mankell (Sue Arnold, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Return of the Dancing Master (Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of I Die, But the Memory Lives On: The World's Aids Crisis and the Memory Book Project by Henning Mankell (Giles Foden, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of DEPTHS By Henning Mankell (Lucy Ellman, NY Times Book Review)
    -Mankell explores underneath life's ice (Ed Siegel, June 9, 2009, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEWS: Henning Mankell Archives (EuroCrime)
    -REVIEW: of The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell (LJ Hurst, Shots Mag)
    -REVIEW: of Man Who Smiled (Ian Thomson, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of Man Who Smiled (Paul Binding, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Man Who Smiled (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Man Who Smiled (Ed Siegel, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW: of Man Who Smiled (Sharon Wheeler, Reviewing the Evidence)
    -REVIEW: of Man Who Smiled (Marcel Berlins, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Man Who Smiled (Patrick Anderson, Washington Post)

Book-related and General Links: