The Man who Smiled is the 4th book in the Wallander series of books by Henning Mankell (unless you are reading them chronologically, in which case it is the 5th). I’ve had this one sitting around my house for a few months, waiting for me to read it, as I am reading them in order & my OH picked it up when he saw it in Sainsburys, not knowing that there were still 2 books I needed to read before I got to this one. Now, if you read my blog with any regularity, you will know that I had conflicting feelings about this book (See here). After finishing The White Lioness (which I loved), I was really looking forward to reading The Man who Smiled, but I found myself again wishing that the cover was not what it was. (Ok, I admit it, I didn’t want people associating my reading this book with the BBC creation of Wallander – I know people who are refusing to read the books because of that dreadful series!)
Needless to say, I had to get over myself & read it (either that or give it away, I suppose) – especially as OH kept expectantly asking me if I was reading it next! Luckily, I was & I have to say – these books just get better & better!
Synopsis from the back of the book: After killing a man in the line of duty, Inspector Kurt Wallander finds himself spiralling into an alcohol-fuelled depression. He has just decided to leave the police when an old friend approaches him for help investigating his father’s suspicious death. Kurt doesn’t want to know. Against his better judgement he returns to work to head what may now have become a double murder case. Bu while Wallander is on the trail of the killer, somebody is on the trail of Wallander and closing fast.
18 months have passed since the end of The White Lioness, where Kurt ended up killing a man in the line of duty. He has since been signed off for severe depression & has spent that time drowning his depression in alcohol, holidays & women. While trying to get his life under control Wallander is visited by his friend (& solicitor) Sten Torstensson, who has come to find Wallander, to ask him to help in the investigation of his father’s death, which Sten feels certain was not an accident. Kurt turns his friend away, telling him he is no longer a policeman, that he should seek the assistance of the Ystad police.
The day that Wallander is due to go into the police station to sign his retirement papers he discovers that his friend, Sten, has been murdered – shot several times while in his office, which he had shared with his father (also a solicitor). This gets Wallander to thinking about the circumstances behind their deaths – 2 solicitors dead in a matter of weeks is a bit odd, even for Ystad. Kurt can’t help but think that something is dreadfully wrong, that he must right the wrong of turning he friend away by finding the person (or persons) responsible for his murder & the suspected murder of his father.
I flew through The Man who Smiled, even though I was only reading it on the bus to & from work. It was fast paced, full of action & I loved it! Must go buy the next one in the series!!