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3.39  ·  Rating details ·  2,583 ratings  ·  322 reviews
En octubre de 1914, pocos meses después del estallido de la Primera Guerra Mundial, el oficial de la Marina sueca Lars Tobiasson-Svartman recibe la orden de embarcar en el acorazado Svea para cumplir una misión secreta relacionada con las rutas marítimas. Hidrógrafo experto en medir las profundidades marinas, Lars es un hombre reservado y silencioso acostumbrado a guardar ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by TusQuets (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,583 ratings  ·  322 reviews

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Jul 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The shittiest, most depressing book I've yet stumbled across. People refer to their frustration with a book by saying they threw the book across the room. I don't think anyone really does that except.... with this book I did. Hard. Far.

We are to have empathy for someone who has none, enjoy reading about a sociopath and his objectification of other people for what personal gain for ourselves? I question Mankell's mental health. After reading this, I think, every book by Henning Mankell is a cry f
Apr 28, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have not the words to describe just how much I disliked this book.

The main character is so unremittingly horrible, so entirely devoid of any worth, that it is difficult to find anything positive in reading of his experiences.

The prose is nothing special, the story unremarkable, and the only character of note so hideous that it is difficult to comment on anything else.

For whatever reason I read it to the end, thinking perhaps something would change, but it did not, and the main character only g
Glenys Parslow
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 09, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Deborah Coleen Black
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
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Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Asghar Abbas
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The book is as sad and lonely as the island it depicts. Island of chance encounters, island of hope, island of peace, island of illicit despair, and eventually island of madness.

I found this book interesting, obviously because of the island in it bore an uncanny resemblance to my own.

But an excellent, excellent novel.

This one of the most beautiful novels I have ever read. How I love this book. There's so much to this finely crafted story of madness. It spoke to me on so many levels. This book is
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
Sep 20, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Foley
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Rachelle Urist
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not everyone's story

Once again Mankell's deliberate pace. But not his usual subject. No police drama here. Extremely introspective and a character very difficult to understand. And a fascinating arena for the story to take place; sea and ice and uninhabitable, isolated islands as well as Stockholm and the Swedish navy not to mention the context of the Great War in which Sweden was neutral at least during the story's timeline. The tale could have been boring and started out as such but became com
Tina Marga
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Also this story is written from the perspective of a man, as Mankell has done in (most and maybe all) of his other books. This makes it interesting for me. Mankell creates a very peculiar man called Lars, who has a peculiar profession. He is tasked with the measuring of depths of the Baltic sea, at the beginning of WW I when the Germans are fighting against the Russians and Sweden is neutral. In the beginning of the book Lars has my full sympathy since he is devoted to his war-work and has intri ...more
This is the story of a Swedish naval officer in the early 1900s who has become obsessed with measurements and his own kind of logic. And it's this Obsession that leads him into a kind of Madness. The first part of the book went faster than the last. Towards the end I just wanted to get it over with. I like the author's Wallander stories more. I'm looking forward to reading more Mysteries by Mankell. ...more
Cherise Wolas
Set in Sweden, at the outbreak of WW I, a Swedish naval engineer, Lars Tobiasson-Svartman, tasked with taking channel depth soundings, and in a cold marriage, finds a woman, Sara Fredrika, living alone on an island in the archipelago who stirs violent emotions in him. This novel is icy and chilling and increasingly violent, and about midway through I found it hard to keep reading. Atmospheric, intensely gloomy, and brutal.
May 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not without merit, but thematically and stylistically as bleak as a rocky Swedish isle in the depths (yes, I know) of winter.
Mary Ann Morning
For lovers of Swedish novels

I was not familiar with this writer but I will seek him out again. This is a spare,dark story of a man who has very little soul. His connection to other people is a thin thread. While he is coldly capable of murder,it is his lying that finally severs him from the world of the living. He is hard to like but also hard to hate. I loved the icy setting and the world war 1 timeframe. A good read.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This certainly seems to divide opinion, judging by other reviews. Mankell takes us step by step through the disintegration of a psychopath, who appears relatively normal at first if a little obsessed with his work. The novel is set in Sweden and the action is at the beginning of the First World War, but at the very start we get a glimpse of the wife of the main character escaping briefly from an asylum more than twenty years later, so we know this is not going to end well for her. He lies to eve ...more
Edward H. Busse, III
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-owned
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
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
May 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 11, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kate Kirk
A long and complicated read. Set with the distant backdrop of chaos and menace of WW1 Sweden is touched by it but uncertain about involvement. The protagonist’s job is to measure and chart navigable straits for the Swedish Navy. The discipline of this process is in stark contrast to his internal world as tumultuous and menacing as the war zone. There are deaths, murders and madness. Two women are caught in his orbit: one escapes into madness, the other escapes to safety. He escapes himself in th ...more
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Bleak Scandinavian Romance/Crime [s] 8 231 Jan 30, 2017 12:59AM  
not so bad a book 4 11 Oct 10, 2013 06:09AM  

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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.

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