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3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  1,372 ratings  ·  190 reviews
A gripping, masterful novel from the world-famous Henning Mankell, set off the coast of Sweden during World War I.
"The skerry was resting in the sea. It was like being in a cradle, or on a deathbed, he thought. All the voices hidden in the cliff were whispering. Even rocks have memories, as do waves and breakers. And down below, in the darkness where fish swam along invis
Hardcover, 403 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by New Press, The (first published 2004)
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I really love Mankell's Swedish Detective Kurt Wallander series. So with no new translations due for awhile, I decided to give one of his non-Wallander books a try. On a positive note, I can now say that I know more than I ever thought possible about making depth soundings in the Stockholm archipelago. I can only hope that knowledge comes in handy at some point in my life, otherwise I have lost about 6 hours of my life for naught.
Mankell, Henning. DEPTHS. (2004). *****. In this novel, another of Mankell’s non-series works, he explores the several meanings of depth. The protagonist is Lars Tobiaason-Svartman, a member of the Swedish navy. The time is 1914, at the beginning of the Great War. Lars is a hydrographer, one who measures the depths of the ocean floor in order to produce nautical charts for use by the government. His most cherished possion is his sounding lead, which he had made for him in Manchester, England. He ...more
Hey, I really liked this book. Nice to read something else by Mankell that is not a Kurt Wallander "Mystery" I guess what I have always found appealing about the Wallander series is that they are less about "whodunnit" and more about the daily grind of life and life crisis. It is almost like the detective cases take a back seat to family deaths, when to scheldule the laundry room, divorce, diabetes, failed love etc. Kind of like the Hank Moseley series by Charles Willeford.

Depths is a little bi
Glenys Parslow
Readers who find this an uncomfortable even unpleasant read will eventually realise that the author is keeping the reader inside the mind of a psychopath. A psychopath can remain outwardly normal and functional. The signs are there but you have to know how to read them. I nearly gave up on this novel several times but in the end I was so glad I perservered with this evil man. The first reveal only comes when he reads the ship's captains' diary. This is the stunning moment when we see him from an ...more
Oct 13, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Max Baucus
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Donovan McNabb
Shelves: fiction
It wasn't until about 100 pages in that this book, one of Mankell's non-mysteries, began to absorb me. It's the story of a Swedish naval engineer at the outbreak of World War I who is sent on a secret mission to measure the depths of various sea channels so warships can safely navigate. He seems fairly normal at first, but in his relationships with his wife, a wild woman he meets on a desolate island, various colleagues, certain small animals, his father-in-law and others, we soon see that he is ...more
I am a huge fan of Henning Mankell, but he outdoes himself here in this intensely lyrical novel about a man charged with secretly measuring the depth of the ocean off of the Swedish coast during WWI and a woman he finds on a deserted island. Not a mystery, persay, but nonetheless an in depth look at an individual who engages in truly disturbing behavior.
This book is chilling.....I am almost sorry i read it. The main character is not sympathetic in any sense of the word. I don't think I shake the impression of awfulness that he imparted.
This novel will haunt me forever; it was, quite simply, a masterpiece. Occasionally, you read a novel so vivid and compelling that you almost feel as if you have experienced it rather than having just merely read it; this is one such example. Maybe this is because the author so deftly gets you inside the head of the psychopathic main character; a man obsessed with assessing distances and measuring sea depths. He is also a man who does not know his own mind, who cannot measure his own depths so t ...more
Mikhail Yukhnovskiy
I finished reading the book. This is one of the books I've been reading for years. I bought and and started reading it two, or even three years ago. At last, I settled myself to finish it, and I did. The book is quite true to its name in many ways. Not least because of the way it is written I felt I was drowining in slow and deep waves. The prose is very sparse. The chapters are often one page long - and most often two pages long (there are 403 pages split up into 206 chapters). At first the atm ...more
Very difficult to decide how to rate this. I really wasn't it to it at the beginning. The main character is a Swedish bathymetry measurer ('hydrologic engineer') during early W.W. 1. The story initially is slightly bizarre but didn't really grab me. Maybe because the writing is very stolid, very stereotypically Scandanavian. It's a third person affair, and the main character tries (pretty successfully) to keep everything bottled up. As things progress, he ends up letting more than a little of hi ...more
Rachelle Urist
Ahhhh. This wonderfully wrought novel has all the suspense of a Wallander mystery, without being a crime novel - though crimes are committed, and there's a character aboard ship named "Wallender". The protagonist, Lars, takes us deeper and deeper into his compulsions, with Mankell in full control at the helm. The writing is fluid, the sailing is smooth, but there are dangerous undercurrents and mesmerizing eddies. Mankell's command of marine science is in full play here, but he wears his learnin ...more
Should be called "Depths of Depravity." I love Mankell's mystery series; this is not one of them. He set out to write a novel about the depths to which a soul can sink, and succeeds: I was so disturbed I had to stop reading half way through. While there is some physical violence in the book, it's secondary to the psychological twistedness of the characters. Some people will love this; to say I was "unsettled" is a gross understatement. I'll stick to his Kurt Wallendar novels, which have a humane ...more
Ein beklemmendes Buch, nicht der typische 'Wallander-Mankell'. Es ist der Blick in die Tiefen einer Seele und der (Lebens-)Kampf des Mannes, der versucht, dort einen festen Grund zu finden.
Das Buch hat mich auf eine gewisse Art ergriffen - und das macht es zu einem guten Buch... :)
Edward H. Busse, III
A real departure from what I usually read. I was very surprised by how much I liked the story, the setting, the characters and the pace. Mr. Mankell's writing style is easy to follow and he leaves no gaps in the story or the development of the characters. I read this book in just a few days simply because the story built and built and, giving credit to the author, it kept me engaged and wanting to know how it ends. The author is Swedish and this book was translated to English in 2006 - it was or ...more
Paul Foley
Lars Tobiasson-Svartman is a meticulous Swedish naval officer, a hydrologist who instinctively and perhaps compulsively thinks in terms of measurement. There is an almost comical side to his insistent quest for precision and rationality, as when he sleeps with his sounding lead clutched to his chest like a teddy bear. It gradually becomes apparent however that there is something dark and foreboding about this clutching to the rational, and as the novel progresses he becomes increasingly unglued. ...more
Lars Tobiasson-Svartman, measurer of ocean depths, charting the seas around the Swedish archipelago with a sounding lead and rope, on a secret mission for the Swedish navy, 1914, the days before sonar.

Autumn. The arrival of winter. Frozen seas. Fog. Islands connected by ice. The holes through which the sea breathes. The silence.

Ostergotland. Norrkoping. Valdermarsvik. Graholmarna. Krakmaro. Hokbadan. Halsskar. A journey across distances. And into madness.

"His earliest memories were to do with me
Not a Kurt Wallander mystery. That said, Depths is an arresting, disquiting story of obsession. The main character Lars adds Tobiasson to Svartman (tobiasson-Svartman) to create a softness in his name (his mother's maiden name). He is a military man of extreme precision who measures for a living. Set in neutral Sweden during WWI, Lars is ordered to remeasure ocean depths to find quicker, safer passages for military ships. Men die in his presence, often enough to create suspician, though he did n ...more
Patrick Early
Mankell is far more than another airport thriller writer. He is also a poet, with a telling gift for evoking landscape. This book, set in remote islands of the Swedish archipelago during the first World War is an extraordinary achievement. It is essentially the portrait of a married naval officer from Stockholm who, while carrying out his duties sounding
out navigable channels, discovers a solitary woman living alone on an island. His sexual obsession with this woman leads him into a series of da
Didn't finish, so I can't rightfully do the star thing.

As a Stockholm lover and lover of melancholy, loner characters, I was very surprised not to be able to make myself finish this book before its Interlibrary Loan due date (no renewals, guess that made my decision for me). I didn't care about a single character in the book. The best "character" in the book was the Swedish winter.

A review on the back of the book praised it for exploring how a lonely individual can go bad. (I wish I wrote down t
It's not Wallander, but a similarly egocentric persona. The story of a well-married plodder who kicks over the traces and becomes fixated on a hermit-woman and becomes a fairly serious criminal as he pursues her. Again, good on the geographical setting (but I don't know about such huge treks across Baltic ice - even if it isn't the saltiest of seas). Another hollowed-out Mankell character who's driven, but, despite being an achiever in his first life, not gifted with any reflective powers at all ...more
I found this a really weird read. The main character was reprehensible socio/psychopath? obsessed with figures. The setting was the bleakest you can imagine. Not one of the characters was at all attractive or even interesting but after a few chapters I was glued to it!! Mankell's imagination outside his Wallander series is really quite weird. Must be the climate that does it!! I was going to give it just 3 but a book which fulfils none of my normal comfort areas but still keeps me enthralled mus ...more
Chris Witkowski
This has got to be one of the most bizarre novels I have ever read. Mankell is great at creating unlikable characters, but he has really taken the prize with his depiction of the Swedish Naval Officer, Lars Tobiasson-Svartman. The books starts out innocuously but then gradually develops into a creepy story of a truly evil man who manages to lure two women into his sick life, impregnate them and then ruin their lives. Only recommend it if you like weird,sick stories.
Apr 23, 2015 Marianne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Marianne by: bookstore owner
I don't know what I liked about this book, but I was drawn to the main character, Lars and I'm not sure that I like that fact . Lars is pretty despicable. He connects with no one, controls all situations according to his own perverted view of life and he owns it. The short chapters kept me reading as well as the desire to find out what makes this guy tick. The time was early 1900s, the setting was Sweden, his occupation was to measure the depths of all areas of the sea so as to determine the bes ...more
Levent Mollamustafaoglu
Depths is a story that takes place in the early days of the 1st World War. Sweden has not yet chosen her side, but Germans and Russians are already shooting at each other.
Capt. Tobiasson-Svartman is a specialist for depth measurements for the Swedish Navy. He has a very cold relation with his wife and is quite relieved to be sent on a secret mission to measure the depths of the approaches to the Stockholm area.

While he is carrying out the measurements he stumbles upon a small island and encounte
Carey Combe
Wow, I can't say that I really 'enjoyed' this book but it is very good and I found it
Impossible to put down. The main character is utterly believable and his inner monologues brilliant. I loved him finding the diary - a first glimpse into his psychopathic personality. The book, after a slow burning start, got better and better and became real nail-biting stuff.
Phil Griffin
I have liked all of Mankell's books and I am a big fan of the Wallander series, but this book was one of the worst things I have read in some time. The protagonist had no redeeming qualities and was truly an a morale person. I would not suggest this as a book to read for anyone I like.
In this Gothic tale, Mankell probes the depths of human frailty and the shallows of human relationships. The protagonist is NOT a nice person, and yet we recognise him in ourselves, like it or not. While it is a grim tale--worthy of Edgar Allen Poe--it casts a spell that is pretty hard to resist. Talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder: one can't help wonder how those hardy Scandinavian types make it through those long, bleak winters. I am reminded of a neighbour's little Swedish au pair, who was ...more
Agnes Muscoreil
Slow moving look at the double life of a seafaring man. Well written, bleak but fascinating at the same time.
Monica Wies
De hoofdpersoon in dit boek is een Zweedse hydrograaf, werkzaam bij de marine.
Aan hwet begin van de 1e wereldoorlog krijgt hij opdracht metingen te verrichten langs de grillige Zweedse kust om een veilige vaarroute voor de marineschepen te vinden.
Hij is ween in zichzelf gekeerd persoon en drukt alles uit in maten en afstanden, ook de verhoudingen tussen mensen.
Tijdens zijn opdracht ontmoet hij op een verlaten eiland een vrouw en door haar verliest hij de controle op zijn leven en over zijn gevoe
Loved this book - dark and depressing - my favourite!!
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not so bad a book 4 10 Oct 10, 2013 06:09AM  
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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) Sidetracked (Wallander #5) The Dogs of Riga (Wallander #2) The Man Who Smiled (Wallander #4)

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“Just as no significant work of art can be created without the element of irrationality that is in fact the artist's talent." p.179

"He wondered if there was a greater distance than the one between two people in the same bed pretending to sleep." p.213”
“The skerry was resting in the sea. It was like being in a cradle, or on a deathbed, he thought. All the voices hidden in the cliff were whispering. Even rocks have memories, as do waves and breakers. And down below, in the darkness where fish swam along invisible and silent channels, there were also memories.” 2 likes
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