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Sidetracked (Kurt Wallander #5)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  16,111 Ratings  ·  677 Reviews
Fifth (published fourth in the US) 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 b
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 5th 2002 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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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
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
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
Apr 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ελένη Αθανασίου
Ενα 5άρι στον μεγάλο, τον τεράστιο, στον τόσο αγαπημένο μου Μανκέλ. Ενα βιβλίο για το πώς πρέπει να γράφονται τα αστυνομικά μυθιστορήματα, πώς να σκιαγραφούνται οι ήρωες και πώς να εξελίσσεται η έρευνα. Ούτε μια λέξη περιττή, ούτε μια σκηνή αδιάφορη. Ο Κουρτ Βαλάντερ ήρεμος και μοναχικός παλεύει με μια ηθική αξιοθαύμαστη, αλλά τόσο μελαγχολική.
Barbara Valotto
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
4stelle e 1/2 per un grande Wallander!!
Hilary G
May 27, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Τι κοινό μπορεί να έχει ο Γκίστοφ Βέτερστεντ, ένας πρώην υπουργός Δικαιοσύνης, ο Άρνε Κάρλμαν, ένας έμπορος έργων τέχνης, ο Μπγερν Φρέντμαν, ένας κλεπταποδόχος και ο Όκε Λίλιεγκρεν, ένας οικονομικός απατεώνας; Πέραν του γεγονότος ότι βρίσκονται δολοφονημένοι από τσεκούρι και χωρίς σκαλπ... Το αστυνομικό τμήμα του Ίσταντ, με επικεφαλής τον Κουρτ Βαλάντερ έρχεται να δώσει απαντήσεις. Η πορεία των ερευνών δε βαδίζει όπως θα έπρεπε καθώς το ένα χτύπημα ακολουθεί το άλλο. Έχουν να κάνουν με έναν seri ...more
I had heard about Henning Mankell's Wallander series, but it wasn't until I saw a BBC miniseries (with Kenneth Branagh as Wallander) based on three of the later novels that I decided to start reading the series from the beginning.

The first episode I saw was based on Sidetracked, so this is the first time where I knew the entire story before I started reading the book. Yet the book and film have significant differences, and I see how what are ultimately different storylines work for their medium.
Bill Krieger
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Laura Tortorelli
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title doesn't quite make sense with the story -- maybe it has some kind of double meaning in Swedish? -- but it accurately describes my experience of reading this book. I was in the process of reading several other books, as well as, you know, living my life, but I was completely sidetracked from all these other projects in order to read this book as quickly as possible. This was my first Mankell, and it is elegantly done, with a protagonist you don't love or hate, he's just a real guy. This ...more
Nov 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014, mystery
Suspenseful psychological thriller. The killer is someone to sympathize with, but his deranged recipe for trying to achieve an admirable goal is indeed insane. Still it would have been great if it worked, especially since his victims are hardly people eligible for any nobel-human-being prize. In the second half his choice of victims starts to stray a little off, which jacks up the suspense.
I could have done without the side love story, but I guess the author needs that to keep some strands runn
Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I'll have to agree with the Guardian reviewer who said that Henning Mankell is Sweden's greatest export since flatpack furniture. Currently, my grading numbed brain can exclusively handle murder mysteries, and Henning Mankell is one of my favorites of this genre. Inspector Kurt Wallender is so very human -- he struggles with his weight and drinks a little too much, he neglects to wash his dishes and worries about his adult daughter, Linda. But in his slow, plodding way, he puts his insights to w ...more
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-suecia, e4
Esta série é daquelas que se aprende a gostar.
No primeiro livro que li – “Assassino sem rosto” – detestei Kurt Wallander, o dectetive e personagem principal. Dei-lhe um segunda oportunidade graças a uma amiga que o adora e recomenda. Em boa hora o fiz. Hoje, quase ouso dizer que não gostei dele por ser uma personagem demasiado humana...
Em cada romance Henning Mankell foca uma determinada situação, muitas vezes aparentemente enfadonha, de uma forma que nos cativa e envolve.
Este é o quinto da sé
Dick Hill did a good job with the narration but I didn't like this translation as much as the one in the Kindle edition. Since the two weren't the same as I had expected, I ended up opting to read the Kindle book for most of the time.

I did like the Prologue, which was not included in the Kindle edition for some reason.
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Henning Mankell 13 78 Apr 15, 2014 03:11PM  
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  • Murder at the Savoy (Martin Beck, #6)
  • The Return (Inspector Van Veeteren #3)
  • Silence of the Grave (Inspector Erlendur #4)
  • The Shadow Woman (Inspector Winter #2)
  • Don't Look Back (Inspector Konrad Sejer, #2)
  • The Glass Devil (Inspector Huss #4)
  • The Cruel Stars of the Night
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.
More about Henning Mankell...

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 (Wallander, #8)
  • The Pyramid: And Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries (Kurt Wallander, #9)
  • The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander, #10)
“Among all the nonsense, mistakes, and bad ideas we come up with, maybe some truth will sneak in.” 3 likes
“I will baptise her," he said. "You have walked a long way for something you believe in. In our day that is rare. People seldom walk long distances for their faith. That's why the world looks the way it does.” 0 likes
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