The Man from Beijing
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The Man from Beijing

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3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  8,177 ratings  ·  1,335 reviews
January 2006. In the Swedish hamlet of Hesjövallen, nineteen people have been massacred. The only clue is a red ribbon found at the scene.

Judge Birgitta Roslin has particular reason to be shocked: Her grandparents, the Andréns, are among the victims, and Birgitta soon learns that an Andrén family in Nevada has also been murdered. She then discovers the nineteenth-century...more
Hardcover, 367 pages
Published February 16th 2010 by Knopf (first published 2008)
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Best Scandinavian and Nordic Literature
59th out of 637 books — 712 voters
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Scandinavian/Nordic Mysteries
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Kemper
Despite a bloody gore fest kicking off the action and a story that spans from 19th century America to present day China, Sweden, Africa and England, this ended up being about as interesting as a lecture on geopolitics from a semi-bright junior high student.

This book begins with the discovery of a massacre of almost the entire population of a tiny village in a remote area of Sweden. 19 people have been sliced and diced in various ways. Even the pets have been brutally killed. (Hey, Sweden. WTF? S...more
Anmiryam
I've heard a lot about Henning Mankell from others that know I am an aficionado of Nordic mysteries, so I was excited when a friend passed this along for me to read. My enthusiasm was premature. If I was to use this book to pass my final judgement on Mankell as an author, I'm afraid I would be rather harsh. There were hints through this book of the thriller that could have been -- compelling, fast-paced, filled with interesting characters -- but these are drowned in extended polemics about the h...more
Ian
He can certainly tell a story, however I found his characters, in this book, very thinly drawn and unsympathetic. Also, the primary plot line ultimately makes little sense when all is said and done.

I liked it a lot in the beginning and began to dislike it more and more as I got further along. He wants to talk about globalization and colonization and the New China. Fine. Why not write a travel book or non-fiction essay or something ? This is a poor piece of fiction used as a wrapper for some act...more
Steve Dennie
I cannot over-emphasize how disappinting this book was. It started out great: nearly everyone in a small village in cold and snowy northern Sweden is massacred, a hideous scene. A woman deputy is introduced, then a woman with a connection to some of the victims. Then Mankell takes us back to a the American West, where some Chinese immigrants find themselves serving as slave laborers on the continental railroad. I was fully engrossed.

But I don’t think Mankell really thought through where he wante...more
Lobstergirl
Oct 02, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Wen Ho Lee
Henning Mankell is a bad writer. This can be overlooked in books like Faceless Killers and The Man Who Smiled, where plot and character are everything and the dyspeptic charms of Inspector Wallander, coupled with Sweden's gloomy weather, delight us. The Man From Beijing lacks Wallander and lots of other things. The dialogue could not be any more wooden. Here's a Chinese woman telling the protagonist, Swedish judge Birgitta Roslin, that the West is not happy that China was so advanced at one time...more
Gerry Claes
There is no question that China has become an economic powerhouse. The question is, is it a communist country, a capitalist country or both? This book looks at those in China who who want China to adhere to the principals of Chairman Mao and place the well being of the masses above all else and those in China who have become capitalists and are hell bent on amassing wealth no matter what the cost.

All of this is played out starting with a massacre in a small Swedish town that makes no sense and b...more
Beesley
This novel did not live up to its very ambitious premise. Mankell seems to have set out to spin a mystery that swept across continents and generations, and that created connections between the most unconnected of individuals. His ambition far exceeded his execution, making me wonder if this is yet another example of publishing houses rushing books to print without taking the time to properly foster and edit them. This read more like a draft -- albeit a late draft -- than a completed novel. There...more
Nancy Oakes
It's not exactly 3 stars, maybe a little bit more. Are we EVER going to get the extra 1/2 star ability?

The opening scenes of this book are positively chilling, when at first a hungry wolf, away from its pack, is searching for food around the tiny village of Hesjövallen and chances upon a human leg. Then later, a researcher looking into the phenomenon of small towns and villages that are simply dying out stumbles upon the scene of a massacre -- with the exception of three people, everyone person...more
Stephen Gallup
It is possible to like a book and be disappointed with it at the same time. That's the way I feel about The Man From Beijing.

The parts that work best are those when one character is being stalked by another, especially when Hong Qiu suspects that her psychopathic brother Ya Ru plans to kill her, and when the main character, Birgitta Roslin, realizes the killer is now coming for her. The mood in both sections is pretty creepy.

So the story has appeal (assuming you like the genre). But now for the...more
Alana
This is one of the worst books I've ever read. Maybe I should back up and say that I don't like crime fiction and that the only reason I read this book is that it was given to me as a gift from my in-laws (who I now respect less for recommending this garbage. I kid. Sort of).

Internationally bestselling novelist? This is a joke, right? The author is in serious need of a thesaurus because you can only read the same descriptive phrase so many times in a single page, let alone paragraph (perhaps th...more
Laura
So far, this is my favorite Mankell's book. I really liked the plot and his back-forward style.

4* Meurtriers sans visage
4* La cinquième femme
2* Le cerveau de Kennedy
4* The Man Who Smiled
4* The Dogs of Riga
4* O Homem de Beijing
TBR The Troubled Man
TBR A Treacherous Paradise
TBR The White Lioness
TBR Sidetracked
TBR One Step Behind
TBR Firewall
TBR The Pyramid: And Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries
Tom
It's been a while since I've read a Mankell book. He's one of my favorite authors, and after reading Beijing, I have to put his books into more heavy rotation. A small community in Sweden is massacred. A female judge who is related - but not by blood - to those who have been murdered becomes involved. Hankell has a way of capturing our post-modern angst as it's filtered through these horrendous crimes. He does it again against the backdrop of the dramatic economic rise of China. Europe and the U...more
Laura C.
I loved the Wallander series on PBS with Kenneth Branagh as the gray and brittle detective, Wallander. (I mean - who does not love Kenneth Branagh?) This novel is by Henning Mankell, who also wrote the Wallander novels upon which that series is based. This story begins with a wolf. Then there is a horrific murder. For me, two things pervade this novel. One is the curious refusal of the main character, Birgitta Roslin, a judge in Sweden, to tell anyone in her family about the unusual events that...more
Rachel
Okay, I freely admit that I am one of those people that tends to think in outline form. I like things to flow in a logical manner. At times, this book made me feel like I was listening to my four year old nephew tell me about a movie. It was here, there, and all over the place, meandering into circumstances in China, Africa, the history of Mao's policies, etc. There were parts where I found myself wondering: did this book have an editor? If so, where were they? I mean, the background of the guy...more
Tony
Mankell, Henning. THE MAN FROM BEIJING. (2008; English tranlation, 2010). ****. This is not an Inspector Kurt Wallander mystery, but is a stand-alone novel from this remarkable Swedish writer. My first reaction to the book was slightly negative; I was looking forward to going another round with Wallander. When I finally reached the end of the book and was more rational about what I had read, I decided that this was a very good mystery/thriller novel, although it attempted to be much more. In a s...more
Roderick Hart
While this is a crime novel it is also a wide-ranging and ambitious book, connecting events in Sweden with the neo-colonialist activity of the Chinese in Africa.

The starting point is a series of murders all occurring in the same night in a remote Swedish village. The local police believe that the murderer was a deranged Swedish man who commits suicide while in custody. However a visiting judge, Birgitta Roslin, who has connections with some of the victims, comes to the view that the murders wer...more
Tony O'brien
I have to point out at the outset that I can’t really write a proper review of this book without including a few spoilers, so if you haven’t read it yet, maybe it would be best to leave this review until after you have.

I have read several of Mankell’s Wallander books and am currently working my way through the series, thoroughly enjoying them as I go. The blurb for The Man from Beijing sounded fascinating so I decided to give Wallander a break and read this latest standalone novel. I finished it...more
Al
I was disappointed in this book. It's like Mr. Mankell suddenly decided to write something about China politics, and had to fabricate a plot to support his subject. The plot is disjointed, and the few loosely connected acts of violence do little to support it. The protagonist, a female Swedish judge, has the requisite existential angst seemingly required in Swedish detective novels, but floats in a cloud of vague dread and foreboding throughout most of the book. She's aware something is wrong,...more
Meg
Aug 09, 2011 Meg rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Meg by: Entertainment Weekly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark

Henning is back to his true form in this one, even if the premise stretches credulity just a bit. Can't elaborate on that too much without doing a spoiler alert, but suffice to say that the root cause of a mass murder in a tiny Swedish village requires a pathological thirst for revenge that is hard to make fit with the man behind it, given everything he has to lose.

But it gives Mankell a great opportunity to explore Chinese history, and particularly the story of two brothers who are driven by po...more
Ann Royal Nicholas
Perhaps it's my ongoing thrall with Nordic noir but I loved this story. It starts out as a modern police procedural in what has become a familiar setting: Snow, then switches to a historical novel set on the California/Nevada border in the mid-1800s. This shift spurs the brain to seek connection between the two. Before we know it, and very organically, Mankell shifts our focus to contemporary China where possible means and motives begin to appear. Mankell layers in many of the current political...more
Trish
Mankell reaches a little for the premise in this mystery, and succeeds somewhat. It could be an interesting prod to inventiveness in a writing class: include China in your next writing assignment. This mystery becomes a little unwieldy and farfetched when it goes back over several continents and several generations in Part 2, but Mankell comes back in Part 3 to something much more interesting: a discussion of the economic and political changes taking place in a rapidly modernizing China, and a s...more
Darryl Mexic
In this novel of racial intolerance and generational vengeance, Mankell takes us from 1860’s Nevada to modern day Sweden, Beijing, London and Mozambique; from the harsh slave labor conditions imposed upon Chinese workers building the western U.S. railroads to the gleaming towers of Communist Beijing’s fabulously wealthy business magnates, to the hideous torture murders of eighteen seniors, one child and one dog living in the tiny hamlet of Hesjovallen, Sweden. What is the reason for the murders...more
Elizabeth Quinn
As a crime novel, this book is a real stinker. Mankell apparently intends it as a fictional polemic and employs a Scandinavian variation on the Hollywood stereotype of the "wily Chinese." As fiction and as politics, the book fails to persuade. The story opens with a terrible crime -- the slaughter and dismemberment of 19 people in a tiny and remote village in northern Sweden. The central character is Judge Birgitta Roslin, who realizes that her mother grew up in the village as the foster daughte...more
Allison
Beginning the book from the viewpoint of a starving wolf who finds a murder victim was brilliant. Unfortunately, continuing to vary the viewpoints with such frequency was an unfortunate decision that prevents The Man from Beijing from what could have been a great novel. Changing the point of view from character to character and jumping in time and geographical location are both techniques that should be used to keep the reader's attention--and they do. However, doing it too often and between too...more
Mike Philbin
should Henning Mankell have been considered for that year's Philip K Dick award?

I'm saying this because both have a vision of CHINA the great investor, the great landlord, the great invader. In time, it'll all belong to China. That's your country, my country, all our assets. All bought and paid for by the ever-industrious Chinese and their amazingly long forecast mentality and utter anti-humanitarian zeal.

But remember, this is where PROFIT (and its slave-making BOTTOM LINE) always takes mankind....more
Felicity
Somehow this book is gripping, even though it has the most improbable plot of which you could conceive. If you pause for a moment to think about the plausibility of the story, well...you might not finish the novel. Mankell's skill (and that of his translator) is that he manages to make his reader interested in this fascinating story without the reader questioning just how plausible any of it is. Or, we accept that it is plausible...the notions of China as a society with many secrets, and as a wo...more
Rex Michael

As the book began, it did not grab me right away. In fact, I wasn't sure if I'd finish it. By chapter 10 I figured it was just an allegory for the relationship of China and the West from the mid-19th century to now (and this was not going to be what I wanted from this novel, I thought.) Though I did appreciate the historical links via the competing journal of San (from Guang Xi and the letters of JA from Sweden as they gave perspective to parts of my own family history - the building of the rail

...more
Judy
Feb 06, 2013 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Steig Larsson fans


A good read, fast and smooth. If any Swedish crime writer can match up to Steig Larsson, Mankel is at least in the running. I like him much better than Nesbo. I haven't read his Kurt Wallander mysteries and The Man From Beijing is a standalone. When I ever get through the Sara Paretsky books, I might try reading more Mankel.

I liked the character Birgitta Roslin, a middle-aged judge whose persistence solved the gruesome murder of 19 people in a tiny Swedish hamlet. She stood as a symbol of justic...more
Jeffrey
Apr 26, 2010 Jeffrey rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mystery fans. Its not really a thriller
Although thought by some to be a thriller, this oddly engrossing tale is a mystery that has three separate stories.

The main plot line involves the slaughter of half a village in Sweden where the victims, mostly elderly people, are hacked up in a particularly gruesome manner by an unknown assailant. Birgitta Roslin, a Swedish judge is related to two of the dead people. Roslin, who is having some marital problems and is on leave from work for medical reasons decides to visit the village. While th...more
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Did anyone else find this a let down? 16 65 Jul 12, 2014 02:02PM  
Goodreads Librari...: please merge these 2 books 2 141 May 15, 2012 12:57PM  
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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 The Fifth Woman (Wallander, #6) Sidetracked (Wallander #5) The Dogs of Riga (Kurt Wallander #2) The Man Who Smiled (Wallander #4)

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