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(Kurt Wallander #5)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  22,469 ratings  ·  860 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
Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 13th 2003 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1995)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  22,469 ratings  ·  860 reviews

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James Thane
As the fifth entry in this series opens, Swedish police detective Kurt Wallander is looking forward to his upcoming vacation, but then he answers a call to a farmer's field where a young girl has been standing all day in what appears to be a catatonic state. Just as Wallander arrives, the girl douses herself in gasoline and burns herself to death. Wallander is naturally horrified and cannot imagine why the girl would have chosen to end her life, especially in such a painful manner. His task now ...more
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
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Dave Schaafsma
It will come as no surprise that in Henning Mankell’s fifth novel, Sidetracked, in his Kurt Wallander mystery series, that detective Wallander gets sidetracked in his investigation of a serial killer, not figuring out whodunnit until a few people are first killed. So, having read too many serial killer thrillers recently from Jo Nesbo, I was not pleased to see Mankell turn to one for the first time here, but in the end I came to like it well enough, and will rate it 3.75 stars.

We get to know th
Aug 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mankell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mr. Gottshalk
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deceptively long at 350 pages with a small font, the terrific detective saga took longer than I thought, but satisfied throughout. What I like the most about Wallander is that he is very human, and not just another cop on a case. We can relate to the complexities of his personal life, while at the same time follow his brilliant and sometimes hard-luck scramble to find a psychopath. I am now officially a fan of the Kurt Wallander series. Although the Swedish characters and settings are a mouthful ...more
Aug 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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.
Much better than the first Wallander book, imo! I read and listened to this and prefer the translation in this Kindle edition. Not only because of some of the word choices but it also had many little details that the audiobook translation omitted. None of them were crucial to the plot but they added to the overall feeling of the book. Maybe the fact that it had a different cover was a hint about the different translation! (see below for the cover I had from Amazon for this ASIN)

Mankell wrote thi
Jan 20, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Apr 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
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
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
This is my first novel by Henning Mankell. He's a Swedish author, so I expected a little more cultural inserts, but there didn't seem to be any. But in spite of that, I liked this. It felt well thought out and I was glued to it. It wasn't a whodunit, because that was revealed early on. But it was about connecting recent deaths in the area, that seemed unrelated.

The characters were great too. I did the audio and Dick Hill did a great job with the narration and I think that helped with my impress
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is almost a 5 star read for me and probably the best in the series so far. The thing I like about Kurt Wallander is that he is believable and authentic. He’s skillful but modest, getting older and increasingly cranky.. a real human.

This fifth installment in the Wallander series builds in intensity throughout. It’s well paced and the story line is fairly believable too. The ending wasn’t quite right for me for some reason - hence the 4 stars. Overall fantastic tho
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very good plot with excellent sleuth of Wallander
Karen Machin
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I cannot get enough of this series! Great audiobook and excellent series!
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
Oct 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Joe  Noir
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was my first Mankell novel. It will definitely not be my last. I enjoyed this book.

A beautiful young girl commits suicide directly in front of Wallander.

Someone is killing men with an axe, and scalping them.

Wallander is a fascinating character who has moments of depression, makes mistakes, and he has hunches that don’t pan out. He spends more time thinking things over and discussing them with his team than other mystery novel protagonist. He is compassionate and tries to be kind to people.
Michele Weiner
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
My favorite Wallander book so far in the series. Mankell touches on human trafficking but it doesn't overwhelm the book like his forays into other social ills have done in previous books. This is mostly a Wallander story. He is still unsure of himself (and his car license, and his laundry) but obviously in full police mode throughout. He's even nice to his father. There is something missing here that I've come to expect, though. The scenery isn't dreary winter, it's summer holiday. The police ev ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
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

Sidetracked was one of my favorite Wallander books, most of all because I found it was very compelling. It has all the things we have come to expect from Scandinavian literature, gloomy flawed police officers and social criticism. Mixed with this is a murder investigation that kept the pace flowing. I liked the Wallander series in general, but this one is a personal favorite.
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars, fiction, 2016
Ironically enough, and just like Kurt Wallander, I got sidetracked in the middle of this and read 3-4 other books. It's the sign of a good book that I remembered the plot and picked up from where I left off with no harm done. This one is easily the best of the series so far, and the best read since Faceless Killers; it's renewed my goal to read them all, which was flagging somewhat. ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I enjoy all of Henning Mankell's books and find the Wallander series to be outstanding, Sidetracked was exceptional; horrifying, but exceptional. Fortunately, Mankell does not get too graphic in this book; given the nature of the murders, describing them simply is ultimately more effective than going on for pages with lurid descriptions of horrific scenes, which some other writers tend to do. We get it.

The book begins with a chapter that seems baffling; sadly, the reason for it becomes
A Kurt Wallander mystery told from the perspectives of police and criminal. A foreign teenage girl burns herself to death under inspector Wallander's eyes. Several homicides take place where the victim is not only killed but scalped. The victims don't seem to have any connection. The viewer will know quite early that the serial killer is a deranged adolescent boy, but what exactly is his motive?

4* Faceless Killers (Kurt Wallander, #1)
4* The Dogs of Riga (Kurt Wallander, #2)
4* The White Lioness
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series, read-audio
Kurt Wallander is such a driven person. He is sad and yet I am drawn back again and again to the story. This one was no different. Not quite as awful as the last, but the situation just as horrible.

Maybe it is the "voice" of the story that attracts me.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Dick Hill.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
wallander who is self effacing and internalizes almost everything. The one complaint I always have with any detective show or book is the non communication. Why is it that the lead character always goes rogue and doesn't make sure there is backup>?????? ...more
Bill Krieger
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
May 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
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
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Henning Mankell was an internationally known Swedish crime writer, children's author and playwright. He was best known for his literary character Kurt Wallander.

Mankell split his time between Sweden and Mozambique. He was married to Eva Bergman, Swedish director and daughter of Ingmar Bergman.

Other books in the series

Kurt Wallander (10 books)
  • Faceless Killers (Kurt Wallander, #1)
  • The Dogs of Riga (Kurt Wallander, #2)
  • The White Lioness (Kurt Wallander, #3)
  • The Man Who Smiled (Kurt Wallander #4)
  • The Fifth Woman (Kurt Wallander, #6)
  • One Step Behind  (Kurt Wallander, #7)
  • Firewall (Kurt Wallander, #8)
  • The Pyramid: And Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries (Kurt Wallander, #9)
  • The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander, #10)

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