Dougal's Reviews > The Man Who Smiled: Kurt Wallander

The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell
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's review
Jun 22, 2010

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bookshelves: 2010
Read from June 20 to 22, 2010

The fourth book in the Wallander series, and I've read the first four sequentially. This is probably the best so far but that isn't really saying a lot. As with the others, it's not so much the plot that's preposterous, but the way in which the characters interact. At times these interactions are handled skillfully, at others as if Mankell was not doing very well on his creative writing course: 'Must try harder'.
If the overall plot isn't completely preposterous, just like the previous novels, the skilled killers behave like amateurs and do some quite extraordinary things... we never quite do get to the bottom of why they tried to kill a secretary by planting a landmine in her lawn, rather than just shooting her!

Again, as with the others, the translations are poor.

If you're happy with very short, tabloid style, sentences that leave you feeling as if you're reading a primary school text, or are a fan of writing along the lines of Jeffery Archer and are prepared to suspend disbelief for a while, then you might well enjoy Mankell's writing.

It has to be said, there is something strangely compelling about the life of the misfit Wallander even if he is full of contradictions (and I mean within the writing, not within himself!) And once started, the books do gain a momentum that keeps you reading.

However, I don't think I'll be reading another in the series anytime soon. I started as I loved the series screened on BBC4. Not unsurprisingly, Wallander in the books is absolutely nothing like his wonderful Swedish screen incarnation. A pity.

(The book character is very loosely along the lines of the Kurt Wallander in the awful Kenneth Branagh screen adaptations, complete with ageing father painting repetitive landscapes; but absolutely NOTHING like the well balanced Kurt Wallander in the shape of Krister Henriksson in the Swedish series shown on BBC4.)

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