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The Return of the Dancing Master (2000)

by Henning Mankell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Stefan Lindman (1)

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2,010486,563 (3.77)54
Herbert Molin, a retired police officer, is living alone in a remote cottage in the vast forests of Harjedalen in northern Sweden. He has two obsessions: the tango and a conviction that someone is after him. He has no close friends, no close neighbours, and by the time his body is found, Molin is almost unrecognizable. Stefan Lindman, a police officer on extended sick leave, hears of the death of his former colleague and decides to involve himself in the case. What he discovers, to his horror and disbelief, is a network of evil almost unimaginable in this remote district, and one which seems impossible to link to Molin's death.… (more)
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» See also 54 mentions

English (29)  Dutch (7)  Spanish (4)  Italian (2)  German (2)  French (2)  Catalan (2)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Set in the Nordic Noir landscape of snow and nutters, a horrific and ritualised murder occurs in a remote settlement. Enter the main character, a young detective full of self-doubt and cancer who is in a relationship that seems unclear to everyone, including me. He soon finds himself enmeshed in a web of mystery where each step towards a resolution leads to more and more questions and deeper mysteries.

While having no official role in the investigation he nevertheless seems to be always at the centre of all that unfolds.

This is a story that takes many twists and turns yet never seems any nearer to a resolution. In fact it appears that to move one step forward to the resolution it is necessary to go three steps back in the main characters histories.

The flawed detective struggles to understand his mortality and emotional availability while at the same descending deeper into the horror of the event and its subsequent fall out, including into his own life from a quarter he never suspected.

In essence he is fighting three battles, the murderer, the cancer and the girlfriend.

In the end he he wins one, loses another and reaches a draw on the third.

All up, I was gripped from the beginning in that slow, calm, understated, Nordic way. It’s not so much a ripping yarn as a slow measured HR approved yarn, yet still a bloody good read. ( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
I registered this book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/14204068

The first Stefan Lindman mystery. Lindman is a 37-year-old police officer, recently diagnosed with cancer of the tongue. When he is on medical leave he reads about the murder of a former colleague, Herbert Molin, in another city. He had learned from Molin when Lindman was a younger officer and he is curious about his death. Perhaps as a way to avoid thinking too much about cancer, he decides to visit Harjedelen, where Molin was murdered.

Fortunately for Lindman, the detective assigned to the case takes a liking to him and lets him intrude in areas where he really should not. The two spend much time trying to figure out what happened and especially why. The murder was particularly horrific and the crime scene mysterious.

Lindman finds out connections among the major characters to an underground Nazi network. Further, he finds out more about himself and about his own father than perhaps he wants to know.

As is typical of Mankell, history and culture take a front seat here. He uses the story to raise awareness of the past, in hopes perhaps that we will not repeat it. Yet his typically dark nature is never convinced about the ultimate good of human nature.

Complex, complicated. But again Mankell manages to create women who aren't as fleshed out as the men and who tend to make demands. It seems that he only likes women for vague aesthetic qualities. I can never figure this out.

A side note: he refers to the police dogs as "Alsatians". This term was created during WWII by the British because they did not want to associate with anything German and the favorite police dog was a German Shephard. They are one and the same, in other words, and the word "Alsatian" is no longer in general use. I wonder why Mankell chose to use it. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
This 400+ page novel would have been barely acceptable as a 200 page novel. As it is, it was a chore for me to read. I almost gave up in the beginning because there was too much explanation for everything, even things that did not need explaining.

The first part was too grisly for my tastes. But I got beyond that to the point of being bored. The novel moves slowly. And while I couldn't predict all the convoluted twists, a good part of the plot was easy to predict.

I really didn't like Lindholm, the main character. He is a police officer on medical leave, and he involves himself in investigating a murder of a former co-worker, someone not in his jurisdiction. He was diagnosed with cancer, a treatable one, early in the story and continuously felt sorry for himself before even beginning treatment. And he was quick to play the “cancer card” whenever he needed an excuse for any bad behavior. Cancer is a scary diagnosis but this guy's continual whining got annoying. He was selfish and unkind to his girlfriend. This is a male-dominated story, and there is more than a little disregard and disrespect towards women. And I really didn't need to read about someone being “completely blocked up. I haven't had a bowel movement since....”

The language often seemed clunky to me. Whether this was because of the original writing or because of the translation, I cannot say. I do know that although I finished it, I didn't really enjoy this book but kept hoping it would get better. It didn't.

I borrowed an ebook edition of this novel from my local library. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Oct 5, 2019 |
Gran novela policial. Uno pensaría por como comienza que será una novela de asesinos como otras pero va desarrollandose y termina en un final mucho más sorprendente que lo esperado. ( )
  elicarra | Mar 7, 2019 |
Not a Wallander story, but basically the same idea, just with a different protagonist and a deep dive into neo-Nazism. Dark, but as good as the others. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Aug 5, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henning Mankellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Butt, WolfgangTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The plane took off from the aerodrome near London shortly after 2 p.m.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Herbert Molin, a retired police officer, is living alone in a remote cottage in the vast forests of Harjedalen in northern Sweden. He has two obsessions: the tango and a conviction that someone is after him. He has no close friends, no close neighbours, and by the time his body is found, Molin is almost unrecognizable. Stefan Lindman, a police officer on extended sick leave, hears of the death of his former colleague and decides to involve himself in the case. What he discovers, to his horror and disbelief, is a network of evil almost unimaginable in this remote district, and one which seems impossible to link to Molin's death.

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Mankell, known in this country for his Kurt Wallander police procedurals (Faceless Killers; The Dogs of Riga), sets this intricate, stand-alone tale of murder and intrigue in the vast pine forests of north-central Sweden. Stefan Lindman, a 37-year-old policeman in the city of Boras, sees his life, both professional and personal, as absolutely ordinary. Then he discovers a strange lump on his tongue; it's cancer, and his life changes dramatically. At the doctor's office he picks up a discarded newspaper and reads that former colleague Herbert Molin has been murdered in the northern forests. Because Lindman needs to take his mind off his upcoming cancer treatment, he decides to investigate Molin's death. As the details of the crime come to light, Lindman realizes he never knew the real Molin. The plot involves the secret world of Nazis, both past and present. The prose can be cold and spare, at least in translation: "There was a smell of paint in the house. All the lights were on. Lindman had to bow his head when he entered through the door." The unrelenting Lindman turns out to be an innovative investigator, though those seeking fast-paced action rather than meticulous introspection will be disappointed. Secrets are slowly and methodically teased from the evidence, and by the satisfying end readers with a taste for the unusual will find Lindman, and the mystery he solves, not in the least bit ordinary.
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