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A tense and gripping psychological thriller- Mankell's best book yet

About the Author

Henning Mankell (1948-2015) became a worldwide phenomenon with his crime writing, gripping thrillers and atmospheric novels set in Africa. His prizewinning and critically acclaimed Inspector Wallander Mysteries continue to dominate bestseller lists all over the globe and his books have been translated into forty-five languages and made into numerous international film and television adaptations: most recently the BAFTA-award-winning BBC television series Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh. Driven by a desire to change the world and to fight against racism and nationalism, Mankell devoted much of his time to working with charities in Africa, including SOS Children's Villages and PLAN International, where he was also director of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo. In 2008, the University of St Andrews conferred Henning Mankell with an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of his major contribution to literature and to the practical exercise of conscience. www.henningmankell.com


This bizarre and compelling tale from Swedish author Mankell, best known for his crime novels featuring detective Kurt Wallander (The Man Who Smiled, etc.), focuses on a tortured naval officer, Lars Tobiasson-Svartman, who has the important duty of taking soundings for secret naval channels in the approach to Stockholm at the outbreak of WWI. Like a skilled stonemason, Mankell builds his portrait of Svartman with infinite patience, adding details and highlights layer by layer: Svartman as a naval officer attached to but not a part of a crew; Svartman as husband to a wife willingly left behind as he pursues his secret mission; and Svartman as the obsessed seeker of Sara, the lone inhabitant of Halsskar, a desolate and isolated island. Mankell fully sounds the depths of Svartman's obsessions in a way so artful as to appear artless, creating a masterful portrait not only of Svartman but of the women in his life. This is a memorable and shocking psychological study. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Lars Tobiasson-Svartman is the image of probity and rationality. An ace hydrographic engineer who accurately gauges distances and depths at a glance, Lars lulls himself to sleep each night clutching one of his sounding weights to his chest. He has married well but finds domesticity suffocating and much prefers the regimented, masculine environment aboard a naval vessel. In 1914, on a secret mission off the coast of Sweden, Lars discovers a beautiful woman living alone on a barren island. He spies on her from afar, becomes infatuated, and eventually ends up having an affair with her, ignoring the fact that his wife has just given birth back in Stockholm. Lars spins an increasingly complex web of lies to conceal each woman's existence from the other, and when it inevitably unravels he responds with shocking brutality. Is his true nature finally coming to the surface? Mankell's slow pacing requires some patience, and the Scandinavian gloom is oppressive. This nightmarish tale may remind older readers of Kobo Abe's classic novel The Woman in the Dunes (1964). Recommended for larger collections of European fiction.--Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Razor-sharp... Mankell is, without doubt, one of the most impressive crime writers at work today * Guardian *
Mesmerically fascinating * Daily Telegraph *
A terse, gripping dissection of a broken man whose private morality is as barren as the frozen wastes that betray his destiny * Times Literary Supplement *
An atmospheric and chilling portrait of a disturbed mind * Observer *
A noirish psychological thriller, steeped in eerie premonitions and symbolism, in prose that's as cold, empty and pitiless as the landscape it describes * Metro *

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