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Too much politics, not enough plot

  • Mar 23, 2010
Rating:
+3
I have been enjoying the Wallander books, so I was looking forward to this new book by Mr. Mankell. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

It begins quite well, with an entire village of elderly people slaughtered for no apparent reason. After that, it begins to go steadily downhill. The protagonist is not a detective, but a female judge who puts herself right into the midle of the police investigation. Despite being told to stop getting involved, she continues to dig around for the reason for the killings, and that's what makes the story somewhat unravel.

The author appears to be more interested in writing about politics and Communism than getting on with the plot, and it gets bogged down rather easily. It's a globe-spanning book, going from Sweden to Denmark, to Britain, to the United States, to China, to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Too much travel and not enough substance.

In the end, of course, the reader learns the reason for the killings, and even if it makes very little sense it does bring the book to a conclusion. I hope Mr. Mankell has now satisfied his urge to write about political things, and can get back to what he does best, writing thrillers and police procedurals.

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More The Man from Beijing reviews
review by . January 24, 2011
Vendetta
The Man from Beijing is a Mankell novel in which Kurt Wallender never makes an appearance. The protagonist here is rather an unlikely one, being a 50-something Swedish woman who happens to be a highly regarded judge. A shocking mass murder has occurred in a remote northern village populated by elderly people, most of whom are related. When Birgitta discovers that the foster parents of her mother are among the dead, she travels to the scene of the crime to find out what the police know. Within days, …
review by . August 02, 2010
Henning Mankell surpassed himself with this superb novel
Mankell literally surpassed himself with this remarkably presented tale of a gruesome murder that affects the lives of many people in many lands. After reading his first Kurt Wallander mystery, Faceless Killers, and the five short stories called The Pyramid, I thought of Henning Mankell as a good writer, but not a terrific one. This novel, which is not about his detective Wallander, the subject of ten of his mysteries, does not have the slow almost plodding pace I felt in the two other books of …
review by . August 02, 2010
Mankell literally surpassed himself with this remarkably presented tale of a gruesome murder that affects the lives of many people in many lands. After reading his first Kurt Wallander mystery, Faceless Killers, and the five short stories called The Pyramid, I thought of Henning Mankell as a good writer, but not a terrific one. This novel, which is not about his detective Wallander, the subject of ten of his mysteries, does not have the slow almost plodding pace I felt in the two other books of …
About the reviewer
Frank J. Konopka ()
Ranked #93
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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A massacre in the remote Swedish village of Hesjövallen propels this complex, if diffuse, stand-alone thriller from Mankell (The Pyramid). Judge Birgitta Roslin, whose mother grew up in the village, comes across diaries from the house of one of the 19 mostly elderly victims kept by Jan Andrén, an immigrant ancestor of Roslin's. The diaries cover Andrén's time as a foreman on the building of the transcontinental railroad in the United States. An extended flashback charts the journey of a railroad worker, San, who was kidnapped in China and shipped to America in 1863. After finding evidence linking a mysterious Chinese man to the Hesjövallen murders, Roslin travels to Beijing, suspecting that the motive for the horrific crime is rooted in the past. While each section, ranging in setting from the bleak frozen landscape of northern Sweden to modern-day China bursting onto the global playing field, compels, the parts don't add up to a fully satisfying whole.Author tour. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Contents:

pt. 1. The silence. The epitaph --
The judge --
pt. 2. The railroad. The way to Canton --
The feather and the stone --
pt. 3. The red ribbon. The rebels --
The Chinese game --
pt. 4. The colonizers. Bark peeled off by elephants --
Chinatown, London.

Other title: Kinesen.  Translated from the Swedish by Laurie ...
view wiki

Details

ISBN-10: 0307271862
ISBN-13: 978-0307271860
Author: Henning Mankell
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Knopf
First to Review
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