Books by Henning Mankell

Bestselling novelist and playwright Henning Mankell has received the German Tolerance Prize and the Macallan Golden Dagger and has been nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize three times. Mankell divides his time between Sweden and Maputo, Mozambiqu

AFTER THE FIRE by Henning Mankell
Released: Oct. 31, 2017

"A bracing look at a twilight year in the life of an old man who, when confronted daily by perfectly good reasons for giving up altogether, doesn't so much rise above as plow stoically through them."
Eight years after his barren but settled life was harrowed by a series of once-in-a-lifetime crises (Italian Shoes, 2009), ignominiously retired surgeon Fredrik Welin is beset by an even more traumatic event in this final novel by the creator of beloved police detective Kurt Wallander. Read full book review >
QUICKSAND by Henning Mankell
Released: Jan. 10, 2017

"'I have written about crime because it illustrates more clearly than anything else the contrasts that form the basis of human life,' writes Mankell. After digesting these piercing intimations of mortality, readers will suspect that some subjects illustrate those contrasts even more clearly."
Diagnosed with the cancer that would take his life in 2015, the creator of the Kurt Wallander mysteries (An Event in Autumn, 2014, etc.) casts an impassioned eye on life and death. Read full book review >
AN EVENT IN AUTUMN by Henning Mankell
Released: Aug. 12, 2014

"As a bonus, Mankell (A Treacherous Paradise, 2013, etc.) appends a reminiscence of Wallander's creation and a brief account of this tale's composition that includes its saddest sentence: 'There are no more stories about Kurt Wallander.'"
Great news for fans who feared they'd see no more of Kurt Wallander: a characteristically melancholy novella whose events take place in 2002, just before those of Wallander's last appearance (The Troubled Man, 2011). Read full book review >
Released: July 9, 2013

"Hanna's adventures, based on elliptical hints from the journal of a real-life Swedish madam in 1905 Mozambique, make a story as magical as a fairy tale and just about as brutal too."
The chronicler of Kurt Wallander (The Troubled Man, 2011, etc.) sets his sights on something dramatically different: the African odyssey of a young turn-of-the-century Swedish woman that's based on facts—just not very many facts. Read full book review >
THE TROUBLED MAN by Henning Mankell
Released: March 29, 2011

"Though shivering in the winter of his discontent, Wallander will grip the reader hard. Flawed and occasionally exasperating, he is that rare thing: a true original."
Swedish detective Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander (The Pyramid, 2008, etc.) makes a riveting 10th appearance in the strange case of the spy who was and wasn't. Read full book review >
DANIEL by Henning Mankell
Released: Nov. 1, 2010

"An ambitious, flawed but compelling addition to the Mankell canon."
A haunting novel by the Swedish mystery master, one that proceeds from the indelible to the inscrutable. Read full book review >
THE MAN FROM BEIJING by Henning Mankell
Released: Feb. 1, 2010

"Breathtakingly bold in its scope. If Mankell never links his far-flung, multigenerational horrors closely together, that's an important part of his point."
A sweepingly ambitious tale of corruption, injustice and revenge that ranges over three continents and 140 years, from the creator of Swedish police detective Kurt Wallander (The Pyramid, 2008, etc.). Read full book review >
SHADOW OF THE LEOPARD by Henning Mankell
Released: Dec. 1, 2009

Ten years have passed since the events described in Mankell's powerful novel Secrets in the Fire (2003), which chronicled the heartbreaking experience of nine-year-old Sofia, who lost both her legs after stepping on a land mine. This companion finds Sofia, now 19, still living in the same small Mozambique village with her mother, her husband Armando and their three children. Their life has a gentle rhythm that fulfills Sofia. Working in the city, Armando comes home only one night a week. Sofia supplements their meager income by sewing on her treadle machine, a challenge with her artificial legs. One Saturday Armando does not come home. Worried, Sofia makes the difficult journey to the city and learns of a devastating betrayal. With simple clarity, the author never shies from sharing the most intimate details about Sofia's life, while realistically portraying the constant challenges she faces due to her limited mobility. For those new to Sofia's story, a brief introduction is provided. Readers will remember the indomitable Sofia—whose tale is based on real events—long after they close the book. (Fiction. 14 & up)Read full book review >
WHEN THE SNOW FELL by Henning Mankell
Released: Aug. 11, 2009

Joel (A Bridge to the Stars, 2007, and Shadows in the Twilight, 2008) is now almost 14 and feeling all the bewildering emotions that growing up entails. He leads a rich inner life, filled with wild dreams and endless imagination. Along with his yet-unachieved goal of getting his father to return to a seafaring life, he resolves to live to be 100, to see a naked woman, to become a rock star and to see the sea. He sets about reaching these goals in his own inimitable way. Although part of him wants to hold on to pieces of childhood, he finds maturity and gains insights as he plunges from one misadventure to the next. Mankell employs a third-person stream of consciousness, allowing Joel's thoughts to roam unchecked and uncensored. There is a natural flow in the syntax, translated by Thompson from the Swedish, and the author treats Joel with empathy and kindness. This third entry in the series is more successful than the second; readers will reconnect with Joel's essence and wonder what the next year will bring. (Fiction. 12-16)Read full book review >
ITALIAN SHOES by Henning Mankell
Released: April 1, 2009

"Mankell (The Eye of the Leopard, 2008, etc.) provides a moving test of Welin's belief that 'people are close to each other so that they can be parted.'"
The creator of police detective Kurt Wallander presents a tale of mortal reckoning in which all the deaths are natural but none the less powerful. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

"Four OK stories capped by a perfect gem of a novella, 'The Pyramid,' which no fan of Wallander (The Man Who Smiled, 2006, etc.) should miss."
The early adventures of Kurt Wallander, that most human of all fictional detectives, are revealed in a collection of short mysteries. Read full book review >
Released: July 8, 2008

Six months after the events in Bridge to the Stars (2007), Joel is almost 12 and remains a loner, living as much in his imagination as in the real world. He still finds it difficult to voice his conflicts and concerns to his father, but writes of them obliquely in his journal. He interacts with his schoolmates, but he has no one he can call a friend. Instead he associates mainly with strange, disaffected, eccentric adults. When he is miraculously uninjured after a bus strikes him, he decides that he must perform a good deed in gratitude. The deed he chooses leads to a comedy of errors and causes unintentional pain to someone he cares for. For this sequel Mankell has changed the narrative voice from the immediate present-tense stream-of-consciousness to an intrusive, unnecessary voice that announces "I have another story," and then never again occurs in the first person. The plot is thin and purposeless, and there is no attempt at a denouement. A disappointing sequel. (Fiction. 12-14)Read full book review >
THE EYE OF THE LEOPARD by Henning Mankell
Released: May 1, 2008

"The tension never relaxes, and most readers will surely persevere through the final blood-soaked, despairing pages, which attain a truly mesmerizing power."
This previously untranslated novel from the Swedish author, best known for his Kurt Wallender mysteries, tells the complex story of a rootless Swede's perilous and disillusioning African experience. Read full book review >
A BRIDGE TO THE STARS by Henning Mankell
Released: Dec. 11, 2007

Eleven-year-old Joel lives with his father in a remote village in the north of Sweden. His father is a lumberjack, but the stories he tells Joel are always of his adventures as a seaman. Why did his father give up the life of a seaman to become a lumberjack so far from the sea he loved? And why did his mother abandon them? These and other unanswered questions fill Joel's mind while awake and asleep. He has a rich imagination that allows him to embellish his father's stories and to create fantasies of his own. So the dog he sees outside his window becomes a mystical creature that will lead him to the stars, or at least far away from the cold and snow. He sneaks out night after night, and has several adventures, including a near tragedy that changes his relationship with his father and brings them closer together. Adult author Mankell has crafted an unusual coming-of-age tale, with several unexpected twists. Although narrated in the third person, the use of the present tense brings the reader directly into Joel's thoughts and establishes an empathetic relationship. Compelling. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
KENNEDY’S BRAIN by Henning Mankell
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

"Louise is such a powerhouse that she almost salvages a plot too meandering to be persuasive."
Mankell shelves his estimable Kurt Wallander series (The Man Who Smiled, 2006, etc.) for a stand-alone about murder, conspiracy and an obsessive quest. The results are mixed. Read full book review >
DEPTHS by Henning Mankell
Released: April 2, 2007

"Simply extraordinary."
About as profound as modern fiction gets, this depth-charge of a love story moves toward its tragic end with colossal certainty. Read full book review >
THE MAN WHO SMILED by Henning Mankell
Released: Sept. 19, 2006

"Slow as an ice floe, but the Wallander Weltschmerz maintains its peculiar grip."
Will Ystad, the midsized Swedish city that never thaws, have to bid farewell to the brilliant/vulnerable/Maigret-like Detective Chief Inspector who's kept it law-abiding all these years? Read full book review >
Released: April 15, 2006

"Only for those who can believe in a wise, courageous, sensitive, ten-year-old visionary. Skeptics can bypass."
Mankell departs from his distinguished Kurt Wallander crime series (Before the Frost, 2005, etc.) for the strange, sad tale of an African country boy who suffers too much and dies too young. Read full book review >
BEFORE THE FROST by Henning Mankell
Released: Feb. 1, 2005

"Though Mankell's novels can be painfully slow, they're never without their virtues, and this case is redeemed by the electricity between a father and daughter too much alike. "
Series mainstay Kurt Wallender makes room for his daughter. Read full book review >
Released: March 25, 2004

"While some over-the-top plotting keeps this series debut a notch below Mankell's best, his audience will surely approve the new guy too heartily to inflict a serious hit."
Furloughing series hero Kurt Wallender (The Dogs of Riga, 2003, etc.), Mankell introduces Detective Stefan Lindman and saddles him with Wallender-like Weltschmerz. Read full book review >
THE DOGS OF RIGA by Henning Mankell
Released: April 24, 2003

"When Mankell keeps his cases under 400 pages, his pacing benefits exponentially, producing this time a near-flawless performance in a distinguished series (Firewall, 2002, etc.)."
The head of homicide in Ystad, Sweden, is Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander—a good cop, a good man, but not exactly prepossessing. At 43, he's paunchy, balding, subject to periods of self-doubt and almost chronic angst—intensified by the event that kicks off the sixth of his adventures (out of eight) to be published here. Two expensively clad corpses wash up on the south coast of Sweden, three bullets in each chest. They're Latvian corpses, Russian Mafia-connected, executed gangland-style by other well-connected bad guys to the extreme titillation of the Swedish media and the growing discomfort of Wallander and his team. But then a Latvian detective turns up: bright, paunchy Major Liepa, whom Wallander recognizes instantly as a kindred spirit. After a day or so of nosing around, Major Liepa accepts the crime as Latvia's and departs for home, taking with him the gratitude and relief of the boys from Ystad. Shortly thereafter, however, the major is himself murdered, and Latvian homicide request Wallander's help, putting him on the spot again. Dispatched to Riga, he arrives confused, overwhelmed, and far from sanguine about the good intentions of those who sent for him. Lied to, shot at, chased by "the dogs of Riga" (read: government-protected criminals), Wallander remains as indomitable as ever en route to one more dark victory. Read full book review >
FIREWALL by Henning Mankell
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

"Though the case is as overstuffed as you'd expect from exhaustive Mankell (The Fifth Woman, 2000, etc), resolute Wallander, lonely, unhappy, even at times desperate, is as magnetic as ever."
Despite 30 years of down-and-dirty police work, there are some things Swedish Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander's never seen, and he finds the murder of an Ystad cab driver by two middle-class girls, one barely a teenager, impossible to accept, depressing enough to generate first-time thoughts of quitting. The meaninglessness of the crime, the girls' bland resistance to anything resembling guilt, has him projecting onto them a final breakdown of civility and everything that implies. "We live in a vulnerable society," he tells himself darkly. But the killing is not the uncomplicated act of savagery it seemed at the outset. It turns out to have links to other cold-blooded murders and beyond them to the kind of quintessential 21st-century conspiracy a traditional cop—even one as skilled as Wallander—isn't equipped to plumb. He can only conclude dispiritedly that "we're hunting electronic elk." Even out of his depth, though, Wallander still retains an unquenchable curiosity wrapped in a spirit of pure bulldog—a relentlessness that prevents crimes in his bailiwick, even those he doesn't understand, from going unsolved. Relying on help from unlikely sources and ad hoc alliances to shore up his acknowledged information-age shortcomings, he catches the perps, foils the conspirators, and brings all concerned to justice—though not before suffering painfully himself from betrayal, that most bitter and old-fashioned of crimes. Read full book review >
ONE STEP BEHIND by Henning Mankell
Released: Feb. 28, 2002

"Maigret lives in this brilliant police procedural, the best of Wallander's adventures to date."
In Ystad, the middle-sized Swedish city that Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander (The Fifth Woman, 2000, etc.) tries to keep law-abiding, it seems he's succeeding: big crime has taken a holiday during a decorous summer. But Wallander, just returned from a holiday of his own, is feeling far less invigorated than he expected to. He's got no energy, no zest for the job, and no reason to plan for life much beyond 50, his doctor tells him grimly, unless he does something about the hours he works, the junk food he eats, and the exercise he assiduously avoids. Even as Wallander vows to reinvent himself, however, all hell breaks loose in Ystad, ending any dreams of peace for weary Wallander and his undermanned department. Three young celebrants of a bizarre, if probably harmless, Midsummer's Eve ritual, first thought to be only missing, are found murdered, executed by bullets to their heads. Next, one of Wallander's special officers is shotgunned to death in his own house. The homicides that follow give every indication of being somehow connected. Clearly, Ystad has a serial killer on its hands, a careful, crafty killer with an obsessive hatred for, of all things, happiness. Wallander, who has always maintained that there are "evil circumstances" and "evil conditions" but no people with evil "hardwired in their genes," is shaken. And then, one night, alone in the secluded woods, he knows he's being stalked by a monster. Read full book review >
THE FIFTH WOMAN by Henning Mankell
Released: Aug. 2, 2000

"Much too long, and paced like a Swedish winter, but Wallander—solidly in the tradition of tough, brilliant, but oh so vulnerable coppers—almost saves the day."
Ystad is not a mean-streets sort of town, so that when three murders materialize in a space of time unsettlingly short, the first thing Swedish police inspector Kurt Wallander must figure out is whether the cases are connected. It doesn't take him long to decide that they are—moreover, that there's nothing really subtle about the link. "Brutality unites them," he tells his veteran corps of homicide specialists, gathered for the fourth of their adventures to be published here (The White Lioness, 1999, etc.). A barehanded strangling, a cruelly orchestrated drowning, a bizarre entrapment featuring lethally sharpened bamboo sticks—each of the deaths carefully planned to arrive slowly, excruciatingly. With an m.o. of sorts established, Wallander launches his manhunt, and then to his surprise—and considerable dismay—realizes that it is in fact a womanhunt. In Sweden? A female serial killer? Difficult for him to come to terms with, and yet as bits and pieces of evidence accrue—intangible, yet compelling—that conclusion becomes hard to evade. A car driven in a certain way, a suitcase packed with particular efficiency, a whiff of perfume in an unexpected place . . . she's out there, all right: smart, strong, possibly mad, and full of hate. And that's the crux of the matter, Wallander feels—certain that if he can discover why, he'll discover who. Read full book review >
SIDETRACKED by Henning Mankell
Released: May 1, 1999

Under ordinary circumstances, the suicide of an unknown teenager would get Inspector Kurt Wallander's undivided attention, especially because she poured gasoline over her head and set herself aflame right in front of the horrified, helpless Wallander. But the mystery of the girl's motive for killing herself is soon upstaged by the activities of one of Sweden's rare serial killers. The crafty murderer, calling himself Geronimo, donning war paint, and traveling by moped from victim to victim, has scalped the former minister of justice and a shady art-dealer. A psychological profiler who's been called in to work with Wallander's team remarks sagely that it would be easier to get a fix on the victim if only there were more victims. But the next victim, when he obligingly turns up, confounds the pattern the first two seemed to have established. Meanwhile, as Wallander and his crew work feverishly to track down leads, the body count rises, some of them victims of suicide or heart failure. (Mankell recalls P.D. James in his ability to relate homicide to the more general curse of mortality.) And Wallander's worries about his father's Alzheimer's, and his plans for vacationing with his sweetheart Baiba Karlis, are buried beneath the pile of scalps. Though the punishing length and glacial pace of glum Wallander's third (The White Lioness, 1998, etc.) may put off casual visitors, connoisseurs of the police procedural will tear into this installment like the seven-course banquet it is. Read full book review >
THE WHITE LIONESS by Henning Mankell
Released: Aug. 1, 1998

The second in a series chronicling the adventures of Sweden's Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander (Faceless Killers, 1997), and a Viking-sized saga it has grown to be. An ordinary Swedish housewife suddenly disappears. Her neighbors, friends, husband, all are mystified—especially since she led such an exemplary life. But sure enough, a few days later, she's found brutally murdered, her body stuffed into a well. There's no obvious suspect at first, but then Wallander learns of a stalker—an excitable type whose interest in the attractive young woman was apparently not discouraged in the slightest by several firm admonitions to get lost. Now that she's dead, he can't be found in his usual haunts. The cops go after him, fully confident that it's a crime of passion they're dealing with, to be resolved only once the heavy-breather is taken into custody. Soon enough, they do catch him—catch up with him, actually, since it turns out that he's only been away on holiday. He also has an alibi, one so iron-clad that Wallander has no choice but to write him off as a suspect. And so, what had seemed simple becomes complex and murky. Moreover, the international ramifications of the case just won't quit. Unexpectedly and uncomfortably, Wallander finds himself locked into an unsettling competition with the apartheid South Africa's secret police—the story is set in 1993—and also pitted against an ex-KGB agent. Wallander personifies the charmingly melancholy Scandinavian of lore and tradition. But 560 pages of this would hobble the pace, and dim the charisma, of just about any protagonist. Read full book review >
FACELESS KILLERS by Henning Mankell
Released: March 3, 1997

Who would so savagely kill an elderly farming couple in the Swedish town of Lenarp—the husband gruesomely tortured, the wife slowly strangled with a noose tied in an unusual knot—and then step out to the couple's barn to feed their horse? Inspector Kurt Wallander, battling midlife crisis—his estranged daughter has rarely called him since she lit out from home; his estranged wife greets him by telling him how much weight he's put on—would love to have the leisure to speculate about the identity of the killers, described only by the dying Maria Lîvgren as "foreign." As acting chief of the Ystad police, though, he's got more urgent business on his hands: a series of xenophobic phone calls ("You now have three days to make up for shielding foreign criminals. . . . Or else we'll take over") from somebody who's willing to set fire to a refugee camp barracks and gun down a visiting Somali to show how serious he is. Surprised by the news that Johannes Lîvgren was not exactly the colorless chap he appeared, Wallander despairs of finding enough time or energy to kindle a romance with deputy D.A. Anette Brolin, who's married to boot. But how long will it take his plunge into ethnic hatred to give him the answers he needs? Though "the last thing Kurt Wallander felt like was a laughing policeman," fans of Maj Sjîwall and Per Wahlîî will feel right at home in this first (1991) of Mankell's five Wallander novels, right down to the laconic paragraphing. Readers who think of Sweden as snow-white are in for a surprise. Read full book review >