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Sidetracked (Kurt Wallander #5)

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  10,894 ratings  ·  477 reviews
Fourth in the Kurt Wallander series.

In the award-winning Sidetracked, Kurt Wallander is called to a nearby rapeseed field where a teenage girl has been loitering all day long. He arrives just in time to watch her douse herself in gasoline and set herself aflame. The next day he is called to a beach where Sweden’s former Minister of Justice has been axed to death and scalpe
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Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 13th 2003 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

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Harry
Book Review

We all get sidetracked, it's a human condition and a decidedly reactive one. The looming question, of course, is: sidetracked from what? Mankell asks this question in this, his 5th in the Wallander series. The subject is Kurt Wallander. Kurt's goal is to capture a heineous serial killer on the loose in Ystad, Sweden. This is his job as a police officer. For most writers this is enough to confidently concoct a plot that would satisfy most crime readers, but not for Mankell. In the trad
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Brad
Sometimes when you discover a new author -- even when your first exposure to their books doesn't blow your mind -- you see the promise of something fantastic, and you keep reading.

I've been reading many authors with that goal in mind: Ian Rankin (for the last few months) and Stephen King (for most of my life, with perpetual disappointment) and Nick Hornby (for a decade and a half) and Philip Palmer (for a couple of years) and Miriam Toews (since last summer). Only one of those authors has deliv
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Agnieszka
This has been my first book by Mankell and there is going to be more. Not only because I love crime novels, but also because the book was simlpy a great page-turner, one-day read. I could not stop: eating, drinking, sleeping were not the part of my daily routine any more.

Inspector Wallander makes mistakes, gets sidetracked and so what? This only adds excitement to the story even more so as there is a mad serial killer at large. As I believe telling a plot of a detective story spoils the whole f
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Briana
This was the very first Wallander book I ever read. While it started out rather gripping (any time a person lights themselves on fire in the middle of an open field, you have my attention) but I felt that it got a tiny bit slow, just as all the Wallander books do. I mean, most of them are pretty straight forward police procedurals. To be quite honest, the only reason that I keep coming back to Henning Mankell's stories is because I like Kurt Wallander so much. The stories themselves don't seem t ...more
Bill Krieger
This is an outstanding read: smart and funny. It's as good a Wallander book as I've read. Wallander is his old self-deprecating, frazzled self. He's worried about his daughter and his Latvian girlfriend and Sweden's decline and, oh yeah, there's a serial killer loose in Ystad. And Wallander has to catch him before European summer holiday.

This intense focus on "holiday" was odd. I couldn't tell if Mankell was making fun of it, or just reflecting the reality of living in Sweden. I mean, Wallander
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Michele Weiner
I started out praising this series because it was gentle, like Agatha Christie. But it didn't last. Kurt Wallander ran into his first serial killer, and boy was he crazy. In this book, I couldn't help but notice that many Swedish men pee outdoors. You need to make an appointment to do your laundry in an apartment building. And did you know that Swedes eat pea soup on Thursdays? Ah well. Sweden is disintegrating despite their best effort to build a kinder and gentler nation --a perfect nation as ...more
Dorothy
Oct 15, 2011 Dorothy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of police procedurals and of Swedish mysteries
Reading this book, I found myself really wishing that Inspector Kurt Wallander would get some professional help. The man is so depressed that it makes me depressed just to read about him.

Not that he doesn't have plenty of reason to be depressed. His personal life is a mess. He's still grieving for and missing his friend and mentor who died years before. He feels inadequate in his work and there are other stresses in his job as his department faces a budget crunch and possible staff reductions. T
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Keonaona
I had heard about Henning Mankell's Wallander series, but it wasn't until I saw a BBC miniseries (with Kenneth Branagh as Wallander) based on three of the later novels that I decided to start reading the series from the beginning.

The first episode I saw was based on Sidetracked, so this is the first time where I knew the entire story before I started reading the book. Yet the book and film have significant differences, and I see how what are ultimately different storylines work for their medium.
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Ed
Oct 08, 2008 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Detective literature fans.
Recommended to Ed by: John Gregory
This offering by Swedish author, Henning Mankell, featuring Inspector Kurt Wallander, is difficult to categorize.

Is it a Mystery? It's mysterious in the sense that there are many surprises along the way but it's not really a classic Mystery because reader knows who the killer is long before Wallander does.

Is it a Police Procedural? Sort of since the reader is privy to how the police go about their work but only to highlight Wallander's thinking.

Is it a Thriller? Wallander is targeted by the kil
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Teresa
Esta série é daquelas que se aprende a gostar.
No primeiro livro que li – “Assassino sem rosto” – detestei Kurt Wallander, o dectetive e personagem principal. Dei-lhe um segunda oportunidade graças a uma amiga que o adora e recomenda. Em boa hora o fiz. Hoje, quase ouso dizer que não gostei dele por ser uma personagem demasiado humana...
Em cada romance Henning Mankell foca uma determinada situação, muitas vezes aparentemente enfadonha, de uma forma que nos cativa e envolve.
Este é o quinto da sé
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AC
This is an excellent Wallender book, very carefully and intricately constructed. That the book works so well is quite a feat since there is no mystery as to who the murderer is. Mankell avoids melodrama, even when the opportunity offered itself, and continues to develop and deepen several key characters. He is a patient writter, and 420 pages is a lot to ask for from a reader of genre - hence, the missing star. But my interest never flagged. Mankell fans should appreciate this one, if approached ...more
Lobstergirl
This one felt a little phoned-in, plot and character-wise. Also, it was summer in Ystad, and I missed the cold, windy, dreary, dark Skånean winters of earlier books. Third, I'm not a fan of introducing the killer at the outset (though his identity isn't revealed until halfway through). It dissipates rather than enhances the drama. The only mystery was whether the killer would come after Kurt and Linda.

The third star is because I enjoy reading about Wallander's laundry dilemmas.
harshv
I've been reading Henning Mankell's Wallander series since I picked up The Return of the Dancing Master at an airport. I like the dry, serious, battle-scarred detective who is bewildered by an increasingly unfamiliar Sweden where bad things, really bad things, can happen. His uneasy personal relationships provide an interesting dimension to his personality. I particularly like the portrayal of his feelings about his father and his daughter - one turning back into a child, and the other growing i ...more
Eugene
I began reading Sidetracked after we had started watching the British television productions of Mankell's Wallander books, with which I immediately connected. Wallander is a skilled detective but less skilled at managing his life. He struggles with his relationships with his father and his daughter. He's divorced, and during Sidetracked, is more or less in a relationship with a woman living in Latvia whom we never actually meet. Aside from solving murders, he's quite dysfunctional. He can hardly ...more
Hilary G
Having recently said that I didn't like Harry Hole as much as Kurt Wallander, I thought it was only fair to do a closer comparison, so having just read a Jo Nesbo, I read a Henning Mankell. I thought this was necessary because I have watched so much Wallander on TV (the British series with Kenneth Branagh and the even better original series with Krister Henriksson), I could have been influenced and made an unfair comparison. Having read Sidetracked, I am happy to confirm my impression that Walla ...more
Laura Tortorelli
The title doesn't quite make sense with the story -- maybe it has some kind of double meaning in Swedish? -- but it accurately describes my experience of reading this book. I was in the process of reading several other books, as well as, you know, living my life, but I was completely sidetracked from all these other projects in order to read this book as quickly as possible. This was my first Mankell, and it is elegantly done, with a protagonist you don't love or hate, he's just a real guy. This ...more
Rosa
El quinto libro de la serie Wallander está a la altura de sus predecesores. Es una historia escalofriante con asesino en serie incluido en la que el lector siempre va por delante del equipo de investigación pero sin tener siempre toda la información. Las pesquisas y los caminos mentales del inspector se exponen con una claridad asombrosa y el conjunto es magnífico. Los fragmentos en los que la narración toma la perspectiva del asesino son un poco turbadores y están muy bien pensados, desvelando ...more
Kathleen
I'll have to agree with the Guardian reviewer who said that Henning Mankell is Sweden's greatest export since flatpack furniture. Currently, my grading numbed brain can exclusively handle murder mysteries, and Henning Mankell is one of my favorites of this genre. Inspector Kurt Wallender is so very human -- he struggles with his weight and drinks a little too much, he neglects to wash his dishes and worries about his adult daughter, Linda. But in his slow, plodding way, he puts his insights to w ...more
Lars Guthrie
Almost at the level of numbers two and three, the fifth of the Kurt Wallander series doesn't shift outward as those did (to Latvia and South Africa) but inward on Wallander as he is somewhat successful in overcoming his demons. To me, the villain seemed slightly improbable, but as Kurt keeps pointing out, it's an ugly world out there. Despite that, this one ends on a surprisingly hopeful note. Mankell is just the greatest. I started reading these as a stopgap while waiting for my hold on Stieg L ...more
Julián
Otro del dúo Mankell y Wallander. Esta vez un asesino en serie y un suicidio inexplicable. También esta vez con referencias a un país del Tercer Mundo, la República Dominicana. Como siempre, se lee de maravilla. Quizá en este caso aún mejor que en otros y eso que son 427 páginas. Tanto en este libro como en El hombre sonriente he tenido la sensación de que el libro se acaba, de que quedan unas pocas páginas, y de que el caso no está aún ni mucho menos resuelto. Al final parece que el autor soluc ...more
Flaanza
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Wendy
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Abha Thapliyal
I absolutely adore Kurt Wallander. He is probably the most intuitive, sharpest and toughest cop I've come across in all my years of crime-fiction reading. Henning Mankell has created probably the most humane cop there is in literary history. Wallander has the kind of natural instinct that rocks the reader with thrilling waves of anticipation. Unlike Lee Child's Reacher and Michael Connelly's Bosch, Mankell's Wallander is purely realistic : His self-doubt, his flaws, his transgressions as a cop a ...more
Brad Lyerla
I like Mankell's character, Kurt Wallander. The more I read Mankell's stories, the better I like Wallander. And SIDETRACKED is a a very good installment to the series. Check it out.
Taryn
Rating the books I read with the same 5 star system is problematic. I very much enjoyed this book, and want to read more in the series. In the category of modern mysteries I thought it deserves four stars, but if I compare this book to the best books I've ever read (War and Peace, Pride and Prejudice etc), it deserves more like 2.5 stars. What to do?
Casey
A very good mystery! Mankell's Wallander is one of the best detectives I've ever read. No superhuman logic or extraordinary leaps of deduction, Wallander is a dogged detective that won't give up. I do wish that Mankell would have explained the connection between the victims a little more explicitly. I didn't quite get all the connections.
Shari
This mystery is one of my favorite Mankell outings. A thoroughly frightened young girl douses herself with gasoline in a rape field and lights herself afire in front of a shocked and horrified Wallander. Then there are four unusually brutal murders which are obviously committed by the same person -- a Swedish serial killer -- with conflicting leads that go nowhere and confound Wallander and his detective crew.

Everyone is involved and trying mightily to discover leads that will help them connect
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Bilbo Baggins
Wallander is my favourite detective and this novel didn't let me down when it came to him and his character development. He is portrayed so realistically and wonderfully and you can't help but love him even with his flaws. This particular story was extremely exciting and just dark enough and creepy enough to satisfy me. I loved the relationship developing between Wallander and his father so much and felt such heart break for the events that happened. My only qualm with this story is the wrap up ...more
Kathleen


One of the best mysteries I have ever read, and the best of this author so far. A gripping story with a frightening plot line. It's more than a search for a murderer. It's a race against time for Kurt Wallender, who doesn't know how close the deranged killer is.
Mindy
Someone had recommended Henning Mankell when I mentioned that I enjoy Norwegian mystery writers, so I checked out two of his books simultaneously. Zipped through Faceless Killers which is written kindergarten-style. Had nothing else checked out to read, so I started the first chapter of Sidetracked and found it to be far better---more at a fifth grade level!

It was hard to tell which was worse--Mankell's writing or Steven Murray's translation. Maybe it was a team effort.

Be prepared for many pass
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Henning Mankell 13 67 Apr 15, 2014 03:11PM  
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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) The Dogs of Riga (Wallander #2) The Man Who Smiled (Wallander #4) One Step Behind (Wallander, #7)

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“Among all the nonsense, mistakes, and bad ideas we come up with, maybe some truth will sneak in.” 2 likes
“I will baptise her," he said. "You have walked a long way for something you believe in. In our day that is rare. People seldom walk long distances for their faith. That's why the world looks the way it does.” 0 likes
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