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It is Midsummer's Eve. Three young friends meet in a wood to act out an elaborate masque. But unknown to them, they are being watched. With a bullet each, all three are murdered. Soon afterwards, one of Inspector Wallander's colleagues is found murdered. Is this the same killer, and what could the connection be? In this investigation, Wallander is always, tantalisingly, On It is Midsummer's Eve. Three young friends meet in a wood to act out an elaborate masque. But unknown to them, they are being watched. With a bullet each, all three are murdered. Soon afterwards, one of Inspector Wallander's colleagues is found murdered. Is this the same killer, and what could the connection be? In this investigation, Wallander is always, tantalisingly, One Step Behind.


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It is Midsummer's Eve. Three young friends meet in a wood to act out an elaborate masque. But unknown to them, they are being watched. With a bullet each, all three are murdered. Soon afterwards, one of Inspector Wallander's colleagues is found murdered. Is this the same killer, and what could the connection be? In this investigation, Wallander is always, tantalisingly, On It is Midsummer's Eve. Three young friends meet in a wood to act out an elaborate masque. But unknown to them, they are being watched. With a bullet each, all three are murdered. Soon afterwards, one of Inspector Wallander's colleagues is found murdered. Is this the same killer, and what could the connection be? In this investigation, Wallander is always, tantalisingly, One Step Behind.

30 review for One Step Behind

  1. 5 out of 5

    James Thane

    This is another dense, intricately plotted crime novel featuring Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. Three young people, dressed in costumes and celebrating Midsummer's Eve, are brutally murdered. The killer buries the bodies and while they remain undiscovered, the victim's parents are led to believe that their children are off touring Europe. However, the mother of one of the victims refuses to believe this and insists that the police should be investigating the disappearance of the three. But th This is another dense, intricately plotted crime novel featuring Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. Three young people, dressed in costumes and celebrating Midsummer's Eve, are brutally murdered. The killer buries the bodies and while they remain undiscovered, the victim's parents are led to believe that their children are off touring Europe. However, the mother of one of the victims refuses to believe this and insists that the police should be investigating the disappearance of the three. But the evidence, such as it is, suggests that the three are in fact alive and well, and the police do not take the mother's claims seriously. The one official who does believe that something might be amiss, is Kurt Wallander's colleague, Svedberg. For some unknown reason, though, Svedberg does not share his suspicions with Wallander or anyone else. Rather, he takes vacation time and begins to quietly investigate the case on his own. Shortly thereafter, Svedberg dies under mysterious circumstances and almost immediately thereafter, it becomes clear that the three young people have indeed been murdered. Kurt Wallander now faces the most baffling case of his career. He realizes that the death of Svedberg must be connected to the murders of the three young people, but how? And the deeper he digs into the mystery, the more elusive a solution appears to be. This is not a break-neck thriller. It proceeds at a very stately pace, as a real investigation of this magnitude would. There's a great deal of soul-searching and second-guessing from practically everyone involved, Wallander most of all. The story takes place against a society that's in transition, and a lot of people are wondering if things are spinning out of control. Although the novel takes place during an unusually warm summer, the overall tone of the book could not be more dreary. Throughout the book, Wallander suffers from what almost seems to be clinical depression. He has major health issues; he's not sleeping well; he has hardly any energy, and for all the world, you would think he was a man approaching seventy. It's almost jarring when the author reminds us on several occasions, that Wallander is not even fifty yet. He questions his own ability and we are left to wonder through much of the book whether he will be able to see this case through to a successful conclusion. This is probably not a book that will appeal to readers looking for a bright, uplifting story to take them away from the cares and woes of their daily existence. But for those who enjoy dark, gritty, believable police procedurals, One Step Behind will be just what the doctor ordered.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    There's something to be said for knowing the answer to a mystery while you're reading a mystery. I watched the first season of Wallander, of which One Step Behind was the last episode, before ever cracking a Wallander book, yet it didn't hurt my experience reading the book. Henning Mankell did that quite well on his own (but more on that later). When the book opened, and Wallander's colleague, Svedberg, was found murdered in his flat, I was thrilled with knowing who the killer was and how the kil There's something to be said for knowing the answer to a mystery while you're reading a mystery. I watched the first season of Wallander, of which One Step Behind was the last episode, before ever cracking a Wallander book, yet it didn't hurt my experience reading the book. Henning Mankell did that quite well on his own (but more on that later). When the book opened, and Wallander's colleague, Svedberg, was found murdered in his flat, I was thrilled with knowing who the killer was and how the killer was related to his/her past and future victims. The myriad clues that Wallander, Höglund and Martinsson were missing were clear to me in a way they wouldn't have been if I was reading this without prior knowledge (though I am quite observant in a literary-Sherlock way); I had no investigative work to do, so I could just pick up the clues and move along. What this allowed me to do, in turn, was pay more attention to the characters. I was able to settle into the rhythms of their work, their relationships and their problems, which pulled me deep into the story at a rapid rate. It started well. I was enjoying One Step Behind more than any other Wallander I've read, then my enjoyment began to fall apart in the most unexpected ways. I should mention, here, that while I was reading this Wallander I was listening (for the second time) to Sjowall & Wahloo's The Man Who Went Up in Smoke. I've found the Martin Beck books to be superior to the Wallander books, so I shouldn't be surprised that One Step Behind couldn't match its forebear, but the area in which Mankell's creation suffered most in comparison was the attitude towards the killer. Sjowall & Wahloo were not believers in the pure madman, the evil killer for the sake of evil -- nor am I. So Mankell's decision to cast his One Step Behind killer with that mould, to let a dust mote debate float throughout the book about the nature of the killer, then end it with the killer being mad and evil, left me disappointed. Not nearly so disappointed, however, as I was at Wallander's personal turn as Dirty Harry. He was every bad Hollywood cop cliché: he was the unorthodox but effective copper; he was the cop obsessed with catching his (wo)man, all else be damned; he was self-righteous and full of venom for everyone he judged; he took unnecessary risks, put others in danger, fought off meddling bureaucrats, broke laws, all in the name of justice. I had come to expect more from Kurt Wallander in Henning Mankell's books, and the early stages of One Step Behind had promised that I would get what I expected. But no. All I got was disappointment. What started as potentially my most favourite Wallander book turned into my least. I think I will watch the BBC version again soon (I've not seen it in a long time), and see if Wallander is as Hollywood there as he is in Mankell's pages. I sure hope not.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lars Guthrie

    When I read the works of one author, and more emphatically when I read a series by one author, I feel that I almost go further than just the reciprocal relationship between text and reader outlined by Louise Rosenblatt in her transactional theory of literature. With Mankell (and also recently with the twelve volume 'Dance to the Music of Time' by Anthony Powell), it's as if I am in a dialogue with the author. I know that's impossible; the books have already been written. But my reaction to the f When I read the works of one author, and more emphatically when I read a series by one author, I feel that I almost go further than just the reciprocal relationship between text and reader outlined by Louise Rosenblatt in her transactional theory of literature. With Mankell (and also recently with the twelve volume 'Dance to the Music of Time' by Anthony Powell), it's as if I am in a dialogue with the author. I know that's impossible; the books have already been written. But my reaction to the fifth and sixth books in the Kurt Wallander series was positive on the character development of that detective and his colleagues and negative on the implausible villains in those books. In 'One Step Behind,' number seven in the series, I found the serial killer credible and real, which made action scenes that much more engrossing and the suspense that much more chilling and nerve-wracking. The murder of one of Wallender's colleagues and the skeletons in that person's closet added spice to the usual mix. Thanks, Henning. My interest was flagging (only slightly because Wallander is so interesting). Now you're back in the game!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bill Krieger

    Wow. This is a must read for all Wallander-philes. The plot is very good. Even better though, Wallander is a mess. He has health problems, his father died in the last book, he doesn't have a girlfriend, his ex-wife is getting remarried, and his confidence is completely shot. It's classic, wonderful Wallander. Ups and downs and dog tired through a difficult case, it's just a lot of fun to follow along. One of my favorite scenes is when Wallander learns that one of his coworkers considers Wallander Wow. This is a must read for all Wallander-philes. The plot is very good. Even better though, Wallander is a mess. He has health problems, his father died in the last book, he doesn't have a girlfriend, his ex-wife is getting remarried, and his confidence is completely shot. It's classic, wonderful Wallander. Ups and downs and dog tired through a difficult case, it's just a lot of fun to follow along. One of my favorite scenes is when Wallander learns that one of his coworkers considers Wallander to be his best friend. This rocks Wallander's world because he has no personal interaction with the guy outside of work. Is everyone as isolated as I feel, Wallander wonders. And what do the people I feel close to really think of me? It's a classic episode of Wallander self-doubt and over-analysis. I have loved all the Wallander books, and this one may be the best. (BOLD!) It's 4+ bill-stars, and it took some late plot miscues to keep this book from being 5 stars. Not a goodread(.com). A GREAT read! he he... yow, bill

  5. 5 out of 5

    Donald Gallinger

    Henning Mankel has proved himself to be a wonderful crime novelist. His books create a wonderful sense of atmosphere along with razor sharp plotting. The great pleasure in reading Mankell is the social commentary on Sweden's changing society. His fiction is at least as much about evolving mores in Swedish culture as it is about the classic "who done its."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bibliophile

    One Step Behind was my second Henning Mankell novel about Swedish policeman Kurt Wallander, and like Sidetracked, the first Wallander novel I read, I wanted to like it more than I did. One Step Behind concerns the investigation into the murder of a policeman, one of Wallander’s colleagues, who was himself involved in a secret investigation of a crime that no one else believed had been committed. How Wallander manages to catch the criminal despite constantly being “one step behind” forms the myst One Step Behind was my second Henning Mankell novel about Swedish policeman Kurt Wallander, and like Sidetracked, the first Wallander novel I read, I wanted to like it more than I did. One Step Behind concerns the investigation into the murder of a policeman, one of Wallander’s colleagues, who was himself involved in a secret investigation of a crime that no one else believed had been committed. How Wallander manages to catch the criminal despite constantly being “one step behind” forms the mystery here! I do like the atmosphere of the novels and Wallander’s musings about how the world is changing, but sometimes the gloom-and-doom about how violent/bad Swedish society is kind of makes me laugh (given how much less violent Sweden is than the United States!) Plus, the resolutions to both mysteries ended up being rather far-fetched (and I never like the “inside the mind of the killer” stuff, because it has seemed a bit banal in both of the Mankell mysteries I read – someone like Ruth Rendell makes her psychopaths incredibly creepy and yet weirdly sympathetic, and Mankell doesn’t seem to have the skill to do that.) Also, and I don’t know whether this is just the translation, but the writing seems very flat and stiff in One Step Behind (it seems to be written in the style of my son’s board books.) Still, I’m a completist, and Wallander is an interesting enough figure that I probably will go ahead and read the rest of these mysteries (kvetching the entire time!)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Writerlibrarian

    The tension and the depth of the plot from each book become more and more interesting. In this we find Wallander looking for the killer of a fellow detective who was looking for three missing students. Simple yet terribly complicated and dark. Wallander's private life is the back bones of the series. We see him struggling with health problems, his emotional ups and downs. The plot keeps you reading but Wallander's personal turmoils makes you turn the pages faster.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Sherriff

    Great to spend time with Wallander in small-town Sweden. My full review is here: http://patricksherriff.com/2019/07/29... Great to spend time with Wallander in small-town Sweden. My full review is here: http://patricksherriff.com/2019/07/29...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shom Biswas

    Oh bloody sensational. This is nearly as good as it gets. Perhaps Henning Mankell has written better, I don;t know. This is my first, and I am super excited. I had a Louise Penny binge in early 2016. Seems like another binge could be on its way. Have already picked up 'Faceless Killers' next. Review maybe next year, when I get some perspective.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    This isn’t the same Wallander that I’ve come to expect in this series. Sure, he is still depressed and depressing. But this one takes place in the summer, and when the weather’s good, you don’t have the moodiness bad weather causes piling on to the issues faced by the detective. To make up for the good weather, Mankell kills off a peer of Wallander’s, and gives Wallander some bigger health problems to deal with. In this one, bloodwork finds an issue that nags at Wallander every few pages through This isn’t the same Wallander that I’ve come to expect in this series. Sure, he is still depressed and depressing. But this one takes place in the summer, and when the weather’s good, you don’t have the moodiness bad weather causes piling on to the issues faced by the detective. To make up for the good weather, Mankell kills off a peer of Wallander’s, and gives Wallander some bigger health problems to deal with. In this one, bloodwork finds an issue that nags at Wallander every few pages throughout the book, involving plenty of urinating. But worse in this episode is fatigue. You could call this one “the coffee episode”. There is probably more coffee consumed in this book than the previous six put together. And why? To fight fatigue. Lack of sleep is the compelling theme in this book. Fatigue is described on average every few paragraphs. It gets to be overwhelming. It bogs down the story – it’d be half the length if the coffee worked. The story itself was fun, though there really weren’t many flashes of brilliance on our detective’s part. Perhaps Mankell decided that Wallander needed to gut out a case on caffeine-addled autopilot, chasing after lots of leads down dead ends. It was a typical Wallander, but I didn’t find it as entertaining as normal.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    A movie was made based on this book. From IMDb: Shortly after police discovers the murder of three friends, police inspector Wallander finds his friend and colleague Svedberg dead. At first believing that Svedberg killed himself, Wallander soon discovers links between Svedberg, the three friends and a fourth person, a young woman at a mental institution.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tina Parmer

    I love this series and this book did not disappoint. Kurt Wallander is a relatable character and works hard to catch the bad guys while letting his personal life go by the wayside. This may have been my favorite book yet!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Another exciting adventure of Wallander and the Ystad police in which they investigate serial murders for a total of eight people. Young people dressed in costume are murdered at a Midsummer's celebration, then a policeman colleague is bumped off. Are the murders connected? Wallander thinks so. The murders are meticulously planned and carried out. The bodies pile up and so do the red herrings. The author leads us through a labyrinth to get at the truth. I guessed wrong all the way through; the a Another exciting adventure of Wallander and the Ystad police in which they investigate serial murders for a total of eight people. Young people dressed in costume are murdered at a Midsummer's celebration, then a policeman colleague is bumped off. Are the murders connected? Wallander thinks so. The murders are meticulously planned and carried out. The bodies pile up and so do the red herrings. The author leads us through a labyrinth to get at the truth. I guessed wrong all the way through; the author certainly kept my interest! Highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Kurt Wallander - He works tirelessly, eats badly and drinks the nights away in a lonely, neglected flat. Still, he tackles some pretty incredible cases -- Here are the titles in the series (with a few extras) - Faceless Killers Dogs Of Riga White Lioness The Man Who Smiled Sidetracked The Fifth Woman One Step Behind Firewall Return Of The Dancing Master (a Stefan Lindman mystery) Before The Frost (actually a “Linda Wallander” mystery) An old man has been tortured and beaten to death, his wife lies barely Kurt Wallander - He works tirelessly, eats badly and drinks the nights away in a lonely, neglected flat. Still, he tackles some pretty incredible cases -- Here are the titles in the series (with a few extras) - Faceless Killers Dogs Of Riga White Lioness The Man Who Smiled Sidetracked The Fifth Woman One Step Behind Firewall Return Of The Dancing Master (a Stefan Lindman mystery) Before The Frost (actually a “Linda Wallander” mystery) An old man has been tortured and beaten to death, his wife lies barely alive beside his shattered body, victims of violence beyond reason. . . a teenage girl douses herself in gasoline and set herself aflame. The next day Sweden's former Minister of Justice has been axed to death and scalped in a murder that has the obvious markings of a demented serial killer… four nuns and an unidentified fifth woman are found with their throats slit in an Algerian convent, while in Sweden, a birdwatcher is skewered to death in a pit of carefully sharpened bamboo poles… a Swedish housewife is murdered execution-style in a string of events that uncovers a plot to assassinate Nelson Mandela involving the South African secret service and a ruthless ex-KGB agent… an old acquaintance of Wallander’s, a solicitor, who is tied to an enigmatic business tycoon hiding behind an entourage of brusque secretaries and tight security, turns up dead, shot three times after his father dies in a traffic accident (or was it an accident?). . . In woodland outside Ystad, the police make an horrific discovery: a severed head, and hands locked together in an attitude of prayer. A Bible lies at the victim's side, the pages marked with handwritten corrections. A string of macabre incidents, including attacks on domestic animals, has been taking place, a group of religious extremists who are bent on punishing the world's sinners. … On Midsummer's Eve, three friends gather in a secluded meadow in Sweden. In the beautifully clear twilight, they don costumes and begin a secret role-play. But an uninvited guest soon brings their performance to a gruesome conclusion. His approach is careful; his aim is perfect. Three bullets, three corpses… An unknown killer is on the loose, and their only lead is a photograph of a strange woman no one in Sweden seems to know…A life raft washes ashore in Skane, Sweden, carrying two dean men in expensive suits, shot gangland-style. It is discovered that the men were Eastern European criminals… A man stops at an ATM during his evening walk and inexplicably falls dead to the ground. Two teenage girls brutally murder a taxi driver They are quickly apprehended, shocking local policemen with their complete lack of remorse. One girl escapes police custody and disappears without a trace. A few days later a blackout cuts power to a large swath of the country When a serviceman arrives at the malfunctioning power substation, he makes a grisly discovery… a shadowy group of anarchic terrorists, hidden by the anonymity of cyberspace. . . and we haven't even gotten to Kurt Wallander's personal issues!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Haroon

    my first foray into the world of Wallander. Mankell takes the writer into the heart of the man whilst at the same time keeping the reader on the edge of the seat as the mystery unfolds. Mankell presents the human side of the detective - living alone, onset of chronic illness, failed marriage, connection with his daughter, his career, colleagues and an unwavering sense of searching for justice in the hope that he will find and redeem himself in the process..

  16. 5 out of 5

    A Man Called Ove

    This is a frustratingly baffling police procedural from Mankell. There are multiple batches of killings and there is no connection whatsoever between the murders. And as with "Sidetracked" which was Mankell's best book for me, there are virtually no clues. The pacing is slow and deliberate and Mankell has anyways never rushed things through earlier too. Infact, I think this book felt a little repetitive at times but maybe this was because it was realistic. The red herrings are very cleverly place This is a frustratingly baffling police procedural from Mankell. There are multiple batches of killings and there is no connection whatsoever between the murders. And as with "Sidetracked" which was Mankell's best book for me, there are virtually no clues. The pacing is slow and deliberate and Mankell has anyways never rushed things through earlier too. Infact, I think this book felt a little repetitive at times but maybe this was because it was realistic. The red herrings are very cleverly placed. Because there are very few clues, I had my own "intelligent" theory of who the murderer would be. A little later, I changed again. And finally, I had to give up realising Mankell had played us beautifully. Perhaps, of all the crime fiction I have read, Wallander is the most diligent and quite intelligent and yet he is the most human too. In one way, he tells u that one need not be a 'Sherlock' or 'Poirot' to solve baffling crimes. This was my fifth book by Mankell, all featuring Wallander and it was one of the better ones.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    In this edition, Wallander is ill but can't/won't stop to take care of himself. This installment brings out some secrets about one of Wallander's co-workers and a serial killer with little to no reason for his actions is caught...eventually. The recurring thought that I had while reading this was that, while this was written in the 90s, the social issues reflected in Sweden then seem to be coming to pass here in the States. A man killing serially for no other reason than he didn't want to see 'h In this edition, Wallander is ill but can't/won't stop to take care of himself. This installment brings out some secrets about one of Wallander's co-workers and a serial killer with little to no reason for his actions is caught...eventually. The recurring thought that I had while reading this was that, while this was written in the 90s, the social issues reflected in Sweden then seem to be coming to pass here in the States. A man killing serially for no other reason than he didn't want to see 'happy' people? The ongoing distrust and lack of confidence in the police - leading to changes that only hinder maintaining a modicum of a safety for the citizens. However, for this series, it does keep getting better despite the downward spiral of society, Wallander's health and the powers of the police.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    A couple of years have passed since the events in Book #6, which means it's time for another heinous crime in Ystad and for Wallander to once again bemoan the horrific state of Sweden. It's a good mystery, with all kinds of twists ands turns (although I, and probably most mystery readers, figured out quickly what was up with the picture of Louise way before Kurt did). The darkness of the murders this time contrasted sharply with the beautiful summer weather--a theme that echoes throughout the bo A couple of years have passed since the events in Book #6, which means it's time for another heinous crime in Ystad and for Wallander to once again bemoan the horrific state of Sweden. It's a good mystery, with all kinds of twists ands turns (although I, and probably most mystery readers, figured out quickly what was up with the picture of Louise way before Kurt did). The darkness of the murders this time contrasted sharply with the beautiful summer weather--a theme that echoes throughout the book: happiness is fleeting and horror does not have a rational explanation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    The characters come to life, and most important, I like them. One does not think of Sweden in terms of a serial killer, but this is what Wallander and his team were up against. Good suspense and enough interest to keep me hooked.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cyndi

    I am thoroughly snared by Wallender, his methods and his very existence. Mankell was most assuredly a master.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Fran Ross

    Keystone Cops How can a seasoned detective like Wallander make so many blunders during this murder investigation? Don't get me wrong, I do like this character, however, I was getting so frustrated by his inability to think ahead. Small things like not having a pen or pad on him to take notes, leaving his cellphone or his gun behind...these are such rookie mistakes. One other thing that bothered me is that he knew so little about his coworkers personal lives. Come on, he worked with some of these Keystone Cops How can a seasoned detective like Wallander make so many blunders during this murder investigation? Don't get me wrong, I do like this character, however, I was getting so frustrated by his inability to think ahead. Small things like not having a pen or pad on him to take notes, leaving his cellphone or his gun behind...these are such rookie mistakes. One other thing that bothered me is that he knew so little about his coworkers personal lives. Come on, he worked with some of these people for years. Anyway it's just my opinion...what do I know. Nevertheless, as I read further and further into the book, I truly felt like I was reading an episode of the Keystone Cops.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    Another crime solved by Wallander and his mates. Very inventive.

  23. 4 out of 5

    wally

    finished yesterday the 12th of february 2020 g0od read four stars really liked it kindle library loaner have read at least one other from mankell possibly more...intricately plotted suspenseful story about the search for a murderer in sweden one line from the story a bit enlightening something about the feds getting involved since the cops were making slow progress i guess even in sweden there is...in this case local cops and what, federal...the feds never made the scene...only a passing thought finished yesterday the 12th of february 2020 g0od read four stars really liked it kindle library loaner have read at least one other from mankell possibly more...intricately plotted suspenseful story about the search for a murderer in sweden one line from the story a bit enlightening something about the feds getting involved since the cops were making slow progress i guess even in sweden there is...in this case local cops and what, federal...the feds never made the scene...only a passing thought...and one of mine is that maybe this is closer to what police work is actually like...versus what can be presented in a one hour crime drama.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mj

    Henning Mankell is a excellent writer so much so that this is the seventh book in the Kurt Wallander series that I’ve read. His series are a wonderful blend of plot and character. The detective Kurt Wallander is a character who I’ve really come to know and look forward reading about in every new book - to find out how he is doing and what current case he is working on. Wallander is an altruistic and flawed character – a detective committed to his work, considered by his peers to be the best of t Henning Mankell is a excellent writer so much so that this is the seventh book in the Kurt Wallander series that I’ve read. His series are a wonderful blend of plot and character. The detective Kurt Wallander is a character who I’ve really come to know and look forward reading about in every new book - to find out how he is doing and what current case he is working on. Wallander is an altruistic and flawed character – a detective committed to his work, considered by his peers to be the best of the best. But as a man he is very human with vulnerabilities and foibles. One cannot help but be impressed by someone strong enough to track down vicious killers and still stay committed to his job, and who is also smart and sensitive enough to get inside criminals’ heads so that he can solve complex cases. Wallander also loves opera, his daughter and indulges in fast food, coffee and after dinner drinks. He definitely makes for interesting reading. Mankell is a master of plot. His books are traditional detective procedural stories – following up on all the clues. I have come to learn that detective work requires a lot of patience and due diligence. What Wallander also offers as a detective and what makes him so good is how well he can tune in to his intuition. He listens to his feelings and pays attention to his gut instinct. Often what he needs or thinks is missing will fester inside him for a number of days until it percolates to the surface and he knows the answer. While I am not a fan of gruesome killings, I have noticed that this series has gotten more and more involved in brutality as the series has progressed. Surprisingly, I haven’t found it off putting. Maybe I have become desensitized. I don’t think it’s that but rather that while the crimes are horrific, Mankell doesn’t dwell on the gruesome details. What he focuses on is the “inside” of criminal minds. It is amazingly creepy. I have found that discovering how demented sociopaths think is more frightening that any description of bloodletting. In One Step Behind, Mankell did an excellent job of drawing me in to the sadistic and controlling mind of the offender. Despite my abhorrence at the thoughts and motivations of the killer, I wanted to read more and was catapulted along wanting to discover the “who” and “why” of the real killer. Combine an excellent plot with Mankell’s masterful description, character development and you’ll understand why I am a big Mankell fan. This story grabbed me early on and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. One Step Behind is not just a police procedural, it is a thriller in the true sense of the genre and worthy of 5 stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    An excellent Kurt Wallander mystery with deep underlying themes questioning the fall of democracy in Sweden due in part to the brutal and senseless crimes. The Ystad police force seems unable to cope with the growing crime rate nor do they have the staff or advance technology to quickly track down the killers. Swedish society is changing but not in a good way. Wallander once again doggedly pursues a killer who carefully selects victims. But how does he pick his victims and what are their connect An excellent Kurt Wallander mystery with deep underlying themes questioning the fall of democracy in Sweden due in part to the brutal and senseless crimes. The Ystad police force seems unable to cope with the growing crime rate nor do they have the staff or advance technology to quickly track down the killers. Swedish society is changing but not in a good way. Wallander once again doggedly pursues a killer who carefully selects victims. But how does he pick his victims and what are their connections. A police officer in the Ystad unit is also killed while carrying on a secret investigation. Wallander soon realizes how little he know about the murdered colleague, an officer he had worked with for years. Wallander neglects his health, eats poorly, does not exercise and lives mostly on coffee and does not sleep in order to chase down even the smallest lead in desperate attempts to find the killer who he fears will strike again. The suspense builds slowly until the nail biting end. The ending is very satisfying without the gloomy aftertaste in so many of Mankell's Wallander mysteries. I love the way the writer make you feel the fear, doubts, loneliness and anger that Wallander feels. You know his dreams that are surreal fragments pulled from his troubled real life as all dreams are. You are inside his head feeling his frustration at having clues that lead nowhere. You want to yell at him for not taking better care of himself but once he gets started on a case he does not stop until it is finished and even when he is done there seems to be little satisfaction. You quickly realize that things in Sweden are different than they are here in the U.S. Criminals can profit from writing books on their crimes. The front desk at the police station is manned by a receptionist who does odd jobs. Police in this book series often break into homes to look for evidence or criminals. And police leave their guns at work and do not take them home. Home is suppose to be safe. But many things are similar. The crimes are senseless and violent and increasing in frequency. The only criticism I have of this series is that it is so focused on Wallander, you really find out little about the people who work will him, until they are murdered.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Isabella

    Actual Rating: 4.8 Stars Soundtrack: To Be Decided “Normal people have nightmares in their sleep. We have our nightmares when we’re awake.” A charmingly realistic portrait of the struggles of policemen, One Step Behind follows the steps of a brusque detective and his colleagues, while begging the question: who or what can we truly put our faith into? Detective Kurt Wallander returns as engaging as ever, with detectives Magnus Martinsson and Ann-Britt Hoglund strong, worthy companions and confida Actual Rating: 4.8 Stars Soundtrack: To Be Decided “Normal people have nightmares in their sleep. We have our nightmares when we’re awake.” A charmingly realistic portrait of the struggles of policemen, One Step Behind follows the steps of a brusque detective and his colleagues, while begging the question: who or what can we truly put our faith into? Detective Kurt Wallander returns as engaging as ever, with detectives Magnus Martinsson and Ann-Britt Hoglund strong, worthy companions and confidantes. Their story is rife with moodiness and tension, with a labyrinthine mystery masterfully woven throughout. It all brings to light a realization that knowing about someone and truly knowing someone are two completely different entities; there is never clear evidence to determine what goes on within even the most faithful individual. Henning Mankell balances so many variables - action, intimacy, grit, suspense, desperation, agony - and they are all given power through characters' emotions, their actions, their relationships, and then their story, which is unfurled slowly and complexly. For a while, so many ends are kept loose, so many questions unanswered, and so little evidence unearthed, keeping interests high, but we still welcome the mundane. We still hold onto the moments of calm. Chronicling the sacrifices, horrors, and rules of detection, while charging it all with feeling, this is a model for what crime writing should be. Others in this Series: 1.) The White Lioness - ★★★★ 2.) Firewall - ★★★★ 3.) The Troubled Man - ★★★★★/Review

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marieke

    I was thinking about this book last night for some reason -- it's been a little while since I finished it. It struck me that the plot relies on a lot of strange details. I don't read a lot of murder mysteries, so maybe this is common. Of all the characters, Inspector Kurt Wallander is perhaps the most 'normal'. He's overweight, lonely, and intelligent but sometimes unable to connect with others. All the other characters have sordid secrets. The murdered policeman, the circle of unusual teenagers I was thinking about this book last night for some reason -- it's been a little while since I finished it. It struck me that the plot relies on a lot of strange details. I don't read a lot of murder mysteries, so maybe this is common. Of all the characters, Inspector Kurt Wallander is perhaps the most 'normal'. He's overweight, lonely, and intelligent but sometimes unable to connect with others. All the other characters have sordid secrets. The murdered policeman, the circle of unusual teenagers, and of course the murderer. Psychologically these people are ranging on bizarre -- obsessive and highly secretive, unhealthily reserved, privately unhappy. Of course this all adds to the suspense. Secrets must be uncovered. But then I realised that another piece of the puzzle, the prominent role of the postal service in the unravelling of the mystery, seems a little bit odd in this day and age. OK, I see One Step Behind was published in 1997, so it's not too strange that the characters aren't corresponding by email. But it hit me that probably, for any book written in the late 1990s that attempts any degree of realism, this question is always going to come up. How the characters get in touch with each other. I couldn't avoid wondering, would these characters (the teenagers especially) really be writing each other letters? Anyway, I would describe my reading of this book as 'Total Fluff'. I have nothing to say about the writing style, which seems purely functional. About the development of the mystery, it seems to me now that the construction of the plot relied on too many weird details. I'm not being very specific here, since it's a mystery, but I suppose that just comes with the territory? I mean, do murder mysteries get written about perfectly ordinary people getting killed in perfectly ordinary circumstances by totally uninteresting but violent individuals? Probably not. So never mind! I enjoyed this as a bit of 'mental floss' but it doesn't rate nearly as highly as anything I've read by Martin Cruz Smith or Alexander McCall Smith, my two favorite mystery writers.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    This turned out to be one of my favorite Kurt Wallander books. It had an intricate plot, lots of murder, lots of talk of how violent Sweden is becoming(compared to the US, it's laughable), angst on the part of Wallander and murder - oh, did I mention that? I like it when Wallander travels all over Sweden to look for clues. Trouble usually follows him, like when he went to the island to find a witness and she got murdered while he was upstairs asleep. Poor Wallander, he just couldn't seem to catch This turned out to be one of my favorite Kurt Wallander books. It had an intricate plot, lots of murder, lots of talk of how violent Sweden is becoming(compared to the US, it's laughable), angst on the part of Wallander and murder - oh, did I mention that? I like it when Wallander travels all over Sweden to look for clues. Trouble usually follows him, like when he went to the island to find a witness and she got murdered while he was upstairs asleep. Poor Wallander, he just couldn't seem to catch a break on this one. Plus, his coworker was murdered and turned out to harbor more secrets than anyone could comprehend. I was a little worried about Wallander's health in this one. He has high blood sugar and ignores taking care of himself - as usual - but this time, I almost dread reading the last book in the series. What will happen to him? The murderer in this book was a particularly cunning villain, stalking and posing his victims; killing them and digging them up a couple of months later to pose again; killing a cop (even though he was close to him) and going for Wallander himself. I'll miss these mysteries when I finally read FIREWALL. I've been told that Mankell's stand-alones are very good, but like Ian Rankin's John Rebus mysteries, there is really nothing like getting to know a protagonist as well as you can in a well-developed series. Ah, Kurt, at least we had Malmo.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Moulton

    Kurt Wallender finally turns a corner in this book. It feels like he has worked through the anger and bewilderment of the societal changes in Sweden and come out on the other side: more accepting of the changes and turning his attention to the more practical aspects of tackling what is before him now. He looks at some changes, notably women integrating into the police force in detective and managing roles, and sees all that has been gained, not what has been lost. It is a better time in his life Kurt Wallender finally turns a corner in this book. It feels like he has worked through the anger and bewilderment of the societal changes in Sweden and come out on the other side: more accepting of the changes and turning his attention to the more practical aspects of tackling what is before him now. He looks at some changes, notably women integrating into the police force in detective and managing roles, and sees all that has been gained, not what has been lost. It is a better time in his life: the other side of his mid-life crisis. His father has passed, his daughter is on more solid ground and closer to him, his ex-wife is remarrying, and his long-distance love Baiba has ended the ambiguity between him. His internal life is simplified. The nagging question of his father's approval has been settled. It's now a settled, eternal mystery, no longer a constant goad. His transition through divorce is complete with his wife's remarriage. He's given up his dream of Baiba, a house and a dog which always seemed a desperate, midlife grasp at convention that doesn't suit him. He finally feels open to something or someone new while retaining his core identity as a police detective.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marjolein

    Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com This was the first book by Henning Mankell I read, or actually listened to. I know it was a little weird to start in the middle of the Wallander series, but still I enjoyed it a lot since it was during the time the Scandinavian detective books were hugely popular in the Netherlands and I also read a lot of them. I was intrigued by the story, but since it was my first encounter with the characters, I at first missed some of the important Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com This was the first book by Henning Mankell I read, or actually listened to. I know it was a little weird to start in the middle of the Wallander series, but still I enjoyed it a lot since it was during the time the Scandinavian detective books were hugely popular in the Netherlands and I also read a lot of them. I was intrigued by the story, but since it was my first encounter with the characters, I at first missed some of the important things that are going on in this book. However, it was more than enough to follow the story of this particular case, which was intriguing. It's been a while, but one of the things that I still remember most vividly is the slow pace of the narrator which I didn't particularly liked. NB: I listened to a Dutch audiobook

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