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Kennedy's Brain

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  1,698 ratings  ·  222 reviews
From internationally bestselling author Henning Mankell comes a gripping mystery and a depiction of every parent's worst nightmare.

When Louise Cantor finds her twenty-eight year old son dead in his apartment, everything indicates it was a suicide. Louise, however, refuses to accept this, and with nothing more than few suspicions and a mother's intuition, she and her ex-hus
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Vintage (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,776)
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Maggie
I was so excited to read this book after I heard about it on NPR. Of course I was driving and must not have been paying that much attention, because my excitement was a tad unfounded.

This book is a REALLY GOOD IDEA, but in the end there were way too many loose ends, strange events, and characters that you thought were important but weren't really in the end. Go rent The Constant Gardener and you'll get a similar but more satisfying story.

I'm no expert in the Swedish tongue (nor the English, for
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Lynda
I agree with many of the comments shared by other readers. This is a vehicle for Mankell' s issues about AIDS, Africa and the mighty pharmaceuticals rather than a believable novel. I like other readers am a fan

of the Wallander novels which I believe to be well written and plotted with a convincing cast of characters and a strongly realised protagonist in Inspector Kurt Wallender, however I have now read several of Mankell's other novels and have had similar feelings about them. Somehow his bel
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Terri
Drats. I really thought I was going to like this book. It started off so well. Interesting plot, strong female character, Scandinavian setting...but alas it jumped all over the place. I was feeling jet lag from my reading chair. Let's see, Sweden, Greece, Portugal or was it Spain, Africa, back to Sweden, and again to Greece. How was she able to get a visa, I queried at one point. I did enjoy the woman's father. I could visualize that cold winter and the stark trees everytime she called him from ...more
Maria João Fernandes
"If there is a meaning in life it must be centred upon a person, nothing else."

Louise Cantor encontra o seu filho morto na sua casa, em Estocolmo. Depois de voltar das escavações da Grécia para o ver, Louise vê-se num mistério obscuro, doloroso e de difícil compreensão. No seu papel de mãe e arqueóloga, Louise abandona as suas responsabilidades no trabalho e embarca numa busca, carregada de dor e confusão, para encontrar a verdade.

Entre Estocolmo, Barcelona e Moçambique, a mãe perturbada, confro
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Stephen Hayes
Henning Mankell is perhaps best known for his detective stories set in the south of Sweden, featuring detective Karl Wallander. This is also a detective novel of sorts, but the protagonist is not a professional detective, but a middle-aged archaeologist, Louise Cantor, whose expertise has hitherto been confined to solving riddles of the distant past.

I found the story very reminiscent of The Constant Gardener by John le Carre, in that it deals with murders linked to multinational pharmaceutical
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Inga

Kennedys Hirn – huh, was für ein Titel! Man erwartet historische Brisanz, Polit-Thriller, sensationelle Enthüllungen. Man erwartet sicher nicht Wut über das Elend der Welt, besonders der dritten Welt, und man erwartet auch nicht, am Ende weiterhin ohne Antwort auf die Frage dazustehen, was mit Kennedys Hirn nun eigentlich passiert ist.

Die Handlung: Die schwedische Archäologin Louise Cantor findet ihren Sohn tot in dessen Wohnung auf. Sie glaubt nicht an Selbstmord und beginnt auf der Basis der A
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L
Someone needs to get the key containing the period for poor Mankell's computer. Perhaps the pathetic use of punctuation in this book is intentional, stylistic. It makes it hard to read the text & is driving me crazy!

There was a story here, albeit a strange one, an international, paranoid, murder mystery. It's a story of a mother's love and loss, of a mother learning that there was much she didn't know of her son & his life, much she didn't know of herself and her feelings for her son's
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Anne Broyles
To be fair, I may have misjudged this book because it was an ARC that had numerous errors (more than I've ever noticed in an ARC). My guess is that by the time it came out in print, some of the translation had also been smoothed out.

The story is interesting enough, involving a grieving archeologist mother; a mysterious,dead son; a number of possibly good/possibly evil characters who are involved in the AIDS crisis in Africa; a subplot of what happened to JFK's brain when he was killed, and how m
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Seija Grufstedt
Aug 11, 2008 Seija Grufstedt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Laura
This book takes the reader on a worldwide adventure between archeological digs in Greece, to the sculpture-laden, snow covered forests of northern Sweden, to the parrot covered coast of Australia and the city streets of Barcelona, where a mother is in search of finding out the truth behind her son's "suicide." Eventually, the journey culminates in Mozambique where terrible realities surface pertaining to the spread of AIDS and highly suspect treatment of it's African people.

This book brings to s
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Mel Healy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julián
Una arqueóloga encuentra a su hijo muerto en la casa de éste. Según la policía se trata de un suicidio. Ella no está convencida y se dedica en las páginas del libro a intentar conocer sus pasos durante los últimos años y qué ha podido llevar a su muerte. De este modo, va a Australia en busca de su ex marido y sigue el rastro de su hijo en Barcelona y Mozambique.

No diría que es de lo mejor de Mankell. Quizá es que ya he leído demasiado de él. Sigue enganchando y sigue aportando novedades: esta v
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Kaustubh
I must say i might have had too many expectations from the book which ultimately ended up in being a bit letdown. Though it was a good read just to pass the time, the author has left a few loose ends unexplained.(Like the one in his another book "firewall".)While reading the story i always wondered how Louise was able to make decisions on the spur of the moment and travel to distant countries where she never faced any problem whatsoever with visa. Had the story been set back in 1950's, it was un ...more
Jacob
Very enjoyable Mankell. He's still got it. Engaging story and fascinating travels accross the globe (Sweden, Australia, Spain, Africa). A puzzle is put together slowly of how a character was trying to reveal the truth. Disapearences, mysterious deaths, and chilling depictions of power wielding individuals in poverty and AIDS stricken Africa all add up to a compelling read. I was a little let down by the ending but may just need to think about it more.
Kell
I literally came here to find out if my epub book was missing the ending of the book. I was very glad to hear others say it just ended, boom. I am still not convinced that I am not missing a chapter, LOL. The book ended as someone else commented, "like the author just got tired of writing it anymore and stopped." That is exactly how this felt. I felt cheated.

I had found it compelling, though the main character irritated me a bit but I had deep sympathy for her. I also thought her reckless and fo
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Barbara
While Mankell is a good writer and I remained absorbed through most of this book, in the end, he left way too many questions unanswered. It was like he reached a certain page number and decided, OK, that's it, I'm done. It was obvious that his outrage over the AIDS epidemic in Africa was much more important here than the plot.
Claire
Maybe this is what a real life mystery feels like: disbelief, search for answers, discovering things you didn't want to know, being in danger and no resolution whatsoever. The protagonist is an archaeologist, but instead of reading about her work and career, we read a story of a woman only in relation to the men in her life: father, ex-lover, ex-husband and son. I think I would have enjoyed hearing more about her career than following the her search. in my opinion the author maybe shouldn't writ ...more
Chani
Not much happens, it's long-winded and there are recurring narrative devices that get annoying in the long run. Methinks Mankell struggles with writing women and is losing its way.
Tammy
I just couldn't make it to the end of this one. Normally, I love Henning Mankell. But this one just didn't grab me. There was not enough character development to grab me - I stuck with it for about 150 pages, and felt like I didn't know (or like) the character of Louise well enough to stick around, and the plot just wasn't getting going. This book is just a slow-starter. It's one of those where if I had more time on my hands, I might stick around to see if it got better... but I just got Firewal ...more
Kevin
This is a mystery that started well but dwindled. The plot meanders and finally stretches the bounds of believability. The villains become a bit too all knowing and all powerful. Do they really have agents everywhere ready to do away with people delivering scraps of information to the bereaved mother tracking her son's killer? There was a good idea for a novel here that lost it's way in a paranoid fantasy. While the action keeps coming, the writing is uninspired and in the end the vision is stun ...more
Paul Patterson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Trish
Most of us know Henning Mankell from his spectacularly successful series of murder mysteries featuring a grumpy and aging, but respected Swedish police inspector, Kurt Wallander. When I learned Henning Mankell spent half his time in Africa, and half at home in Sweden, I didn't know what to expect of his Africa novels. I knew his writing wasn't anything like that of Alexander McCall Smith, whose charming mysteries are more likely to plumb the depths of a philosophical question rather than a grues ...more
Losososdiane
I was disappointed. I think Mankell got so wrapped up in the issues presented in the novel that he forgot he was writing a novel. I do not usually mind a book without a definitive ending but this one felt uncomfortable. I do understand that he is trying to make the reader aware and thus uncomfortable. I just felt that this one was more like a nightmare in which I wandered from place to place without much direction. I suppose that is how the mother felt. I hope that in my lifetime we can see enou ...more
Felicity
I just don't think Henning Mankell's books work as well without the detective Kurt Wallander. The intriguing thing about this book is that I think Mankell was trying to make some sort of larger statement about humanity, or at least about the AIDS crisis/catastrophe in Africa. That's noble, and I'll concede, not impossible to do in fiction...even if difficult. But everything about the book seemed so unreal, so bizarre, and, as a reader, I had the constant feeling I had no idea what was going on m ...more
BoekenTrol
A very good book indeed.
Not just because it is written by Mankell, not at all. Iliked this book a lot, because it made the despair, the anger, the grief of the characters playing a role in this book almost tangible.

I feel hardly any connection at all with the African continent. Never been there, do not wish to go there. In that I'm almost the opposite of the author of this book, who keeps Africa close to his heart.

How he's able to make me forget that it is Africa he's talking about, how he mak
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Cmorice
Automne 2004. Louise Cantor quitte son chantier de fouilles du Péloponnèse pour rentrer en Suède. Impatiente de revoir son fils, elle le trouve mort dans son appartement de Stockholm. Qui a tué Henrik? Pas un instant Louise ne veut croire que son fils unique se soit suicidé. Avec l’énergie du désespoir et une obstination d’archéologue, elle va tenter de reconstituer, fragment par fragment, les dernières années d’une vie brutalement interrompue. Secondée par Aron, le père d’Henrik, qu’elle est al ...more
Pete Acott
If this was the first novel by a new author I doubt if it would have even attracted a publisher. The general story isn't a bad one, but unfortunately I just could not manage to get past two very ridiculous elements that occurred very early on. The first was how Louise managed to (correctly as it turned out) conclude that of all the places in the world her disappeared ex had buggered off to was Australia. The second point I couldn't get around was that virtually as soon as Louise got off the plan ...more
Linda
I want to like Mankell. He's Swedish, he has great characters. I'm very fond of Wallender and wish PBS would make a mystery series with that series. But this story is too implausible. The only son of a divorced couple is found dead by his mother. She has been excited to see him and has returned to Sweden from her archaeological dig in Greece in order to attend a conference. Convinced that her son has been murdered, even though the police think its a suicide, she seeks out her ex-husband. It take ...more
Mary
The basic plot here is that a mother is searching for the reasons that her son is dead, and she believes he was murdered, apparently because he found out something unspeakable about AIDS research. While it is actually good that the story is not fully resolved (powerful rich people are not likely to be brought to justice) there are too many loose ends to be satisfactory - where did the son get so much money, why was he leading such a secretive life, what really happened and why to the ex-husband. ...more
Margot
A mother travels the world to find out about her son's life after she finds him dead. Medical conspiracists, you will love this one!
I did not enjoy the mother character, so it became slightly tedious for me to read. She was naive and demanding, with a wicked sense of entitlement.

I was also annoyed by all the terrible similes spread through the beginning of the book. I'll include a few below, with some other excerpts as well:
"This was Louise's contribution to archaeological jargon: to describe th
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Diane
Nov 23, 2008 Diane rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a challenge.
Kennedy's Brain is labeled as a mystery, which it is, but it's a mystery with no resolution. The main character, Louise Cantor, sets out on a journey to discover why her son has died and the farther she goes country by country, the darker the mystery becomes. Think Heart of Darkness for the modern era. In fact, Louise leaves her native Sweden and ends up in Mozambique before her travels end and she returns home.

I enjoy reading Mankell's book, partly because they're set in Sweden and the tone ma
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just want to know 1 7 May 01, 2014 10:49PM  
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22339
Henning Mankell is an internationally known Swedish crime writer, children's author and playwright. He is best known for his literary character Kurt Wallander.

Mankell splits his time between Sweden and Mozambique. He is married to Eva Bergman, Swedish director and daughter of Ingmar Bergman.
More about Henning Mankell...
Faceless Killers (Wallander #1) The Fifth Woman (Wallander, #6) Sidetracked (Wallander #5) The Dogs of Riga (Wallander #2) The Man Who Smiled (Wallander #4)

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