One cold January day the police are called to a sleepy little hamlet in the north of Sweden where they discover a savagely murdered man lying in the snow. As they begin their investigation they notice that the village seems eerily quiet and deserted. Going from house to house, looking for witnesses, they uncover a crime unprecedented in Swedish history. When Judge Birgitta Roslin reads about the massacre, she realises that she has a family connection to one of the couples involved and decides to investigate. A nineteenth-century diary and a red silk ribbon found in the forest nearby are the only clues. What Birgitta eventually uncovers leads her into an international web of corruption and a story of vengeance that stretches back over a hundred years, linking China and the USA of the 1860s with modern-day Beijing, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and coming to a shocking climax in London’s Chinatown. The Man from Beijing is both a gripping and perceptive political thriller and a compelling detective story.
It shows Henning Mankell at the height of his powers, handling a broad historical canvas and pressing international issues with his exceptional gifts for insight and chilling suspense.
Ce que les auditeurs disent de The Man From Beijing
My feelings about this book are mixed. It is well written and the narrator makes it pleasant to listen to. No contest the author made some extended research about China as it sounds well documented. The Birgitta Roslin character is charming - it is what actually motivated me to finish the book - and the story starts in a suspenseful manner with a mass murder: you desperately want to know what comes next. Sadly I was expecting to read a mystery and I am under the impression I have just finished some kind of fictionalized essay. The chapters about 19th century China and later those about 2006 China and Africa are pretty boring and if containing minor aspects important to the plot they could easily have been summarized. Not that I do not like to read novels denouncing colonization and slavery, but not when geopolitics
overwhelm the narration. Also the last part looks rushed and the original case is solved far too quickly and easily.
Ambitious but flawed
The Man from Beijing opens with a compelling and gruesome scenario. This becomes the axis around which the narrative will rotate taking the listener all over the planet. Whilst the political, historical and social issues explored are ambitious and intriguing it’s the seemingly bewildering naiveté of the central character, Judge Bergitta Roslin, that distracts and dilutes an ambitious detective/political drama.
Weaving through the narrative an analysis of contemporary Chinese political and economic ambitions coupled with insights into what is still an inscrutable culture is deeply interesting.
Narrators Anna Bentnick’s performance is competent (her pronunciation of Swedish and English words and names is impressive) however she lacks authentic emotion leaving some dramatic and violent scenes oddly antiseptic.
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