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  • Published: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
  • Year Published: 2010
  • Description: 367 p.
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

ISBN/Standard Number

  • 9780307271860 (alk. paper)
  • 0307271862 (alk. paper)

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The man from Beijing

by Mankell, Henning, 1948-

There are currently 3 available

Where To Find It

Call number: Mystery

Available Copies: Downtown 1st Floor, Pittsfield Adult, West Adult

Additional Details

Originally published under title Kinesen : Stockholm : Leopard, 2008.

In the Swedish hamlet of Hesjövallen, January 1960 nineteen people have been massacred. The only clue is a red ribbon found at the scene. Judge Birgitta Roslin's Andrén grandparents, and an Andrén family from Nevada are among the victims. She then discovers the nineteenth-century diary of an Andrén ancestor, a gang master on the American transcontinental railway, that describes brutal treatment of Chinese slave workers.

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Horrible Let-Down

Let me first say: I enjoyed the films of Let the Right One In and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Patience is not my issue. Quiet is not my issue. What my issue is with The Man From Beijing is that there is no reward for your patience, and there is no point to the quiet.

Oh sure, the beginning of the book is gripping and exciting. Enough so that you will happily plod through one or two hundred pages of circuitous drivel, working hard to get to a twist or a showdown or even just an interestingly logical explanation for the events at the beginning. But eventually, you will realize that, well, someone just gave up on this one (and you should have too).

I haven’t read many mysteries, but I came to this one expecting some amount of ‘solving’ to be called for. Instead, Mankell introduces characters at the last moment to explain the plot in full-on university lecture format, shuffle protagonists out of harm’s way, etc. Perhaps this is intended to provide a ‘common woman in the thick of things’ type of realism, but to me it felt an awful lot like lazy writing. The dialog is atrocious (I’d blame it on translation but there’s simply no explanation for the dozens and dozens of pointless non sequiturs. I’d blame it on cultural differences in conversation, but Mankell’s Chinese characters have the exact same subject matter flailings as his Swedish ones do), the plot is a big exciting neon sign falsely advertising intrigue, tied with the thinnest of sinew to a blathering political half-manifesto, wrapped in the ultimate of writing shortcuts. Run away!

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