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The Man From Beijing

Cover of The Man From Beijing

The Man From Beijing

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The acclaimed author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries now gives us an electrifying stand-alone thriller that takes off into a sweeping international drama.

January 2006. In the Swedish hamlet of Hesjövallen, nineteen people have been massacred. The only clue is a red ribbon found at the scene. Judge Birgitta Roslin has particular reason to be shocked: her grandparents, the Andréns, are among the victims. The police insist that only a lunatic could have committed the murders. But when Birgitta discovers the diary of another Andrén--a gang master on the American transcontinental railway in the nineteenth century--that describes the cruel treatment of Chinese slave-workers, she is determined to uncover what she suspects is a more complicated truth.

The investigation leads to modern-day Beijing and its highest echelons of power, to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. But the narrative also takes us back 150 years, into a history that will ensnare Birgitta as she draws ever closer to solving the Hesjövallen murders.

This is Henning Mankell at the height of his powers.


From the Hardcover edition.
The acclaimed author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries now gives us an electrifying stand-alone thriller that takes off into a sweeping international drama.

January 2006. In the Swedish hamlet of Hesjövallen, nineteen people have been massacred. The only clue is a red ribbon found at the scene. Judge Birgitta Roslin has particular reason to be shocked: her grandparents, the Andréns, are among the victims. The police insist that only a lunatic could have committed the murders. But when Birgitta discovers the diary of another Andrén--a gang master on the American transcontinental railway in the nineteenth century--that describes the cruel treatment of Chinese slave-workers, she is determined to uncover what she suspects is a more complicated truth.

The investigation leads to modern-day Beijing and its highest echelons of power, to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. But the narrative also takes us back 150 years, into a history that will ensnare Birgitta as she draws ever closer to solving the Hesjövallen murders.

This is Henning Mankell at the height of his powers.


From the Hardcover edition.
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    The Epitaph

    1

    Frozen snow, severe frost. Midwinter.

    Early in January 2006 a lone wolf crosses the unmarked border and enters Sweden from Vauldalen in Norway. A man on a snowmobile thinks he might have glimpsed it just outside Fjällnäs, but the wolf vanishes into the trees heading east before he is able to pinpoint it. In the remote Norwegian Österdalarna Mountains it had discovered a lump of frozen moose carcass, with remnants of meat still clinging to the bones. But that was more than two days ago. It is beginning to feel the pain of hunger and is desperately searching for food.

    The wolf is a young male that has set out to find a territory of his own. He continues his way eastward. At Nävjarna, north of Linsell, he finds another moose carcass. For a whole day he stays and eats his fill before resuming his trek east. When he comes to Kårböle he trots over the frozen Ljusnan and then follows the river along its winding route toward the sea. One moonless night he lopes silently over the bridge at Järvsö, then heads into the vast forests that stretch to the coast.

    In the early morning of January 13 the wolf reaches Hesjövallen, a tiny village south of Hansesjön Lake in Hälsingland. He pauses and sniffs the air. He detects the smell of blood. He looks around. There are people living in the houses but no smoke rising from the chimneys. His sharp ears can't detect the slightest sound.

    But the wolf is in no doubt about the blood. He skulks at the edge of the forest, nose in the air. Then he moves forward, silently, through the snow. The smell comes from one of the houses at the far end of the hamlet. He is vigilant now--with humans around it's essential to be both careful and patient. He pauses again. The smell originates from the back of the house. He waits. Then eventually starts moving once more. When he gets there he finds another carcass. He drags his large meal back to the trees. He has not been discovered, not even the village dogs have stirred. The silence is total this freezing cold morning.

    The wolf starts eating when he comes to the edge of the trees. It is easy, as the flesh has not yet frozen. He is very hungry now. Having pulled off a leather shoe, he starts gnawing away at an ankle.

    It snowed during the night but stopped before dawn. As the wolf eats his fill, snowflakes once again start dancing down toward the frozen ground.

    2

    When Karsten Höglin woke up he remembered dreaming about a photograph. He lay motionless in bed and felt the image returning slowly, as if the negative of his dream were sending a copy into his conscious mind. He recognized the picture. It was black and white and depicted a man sitting on an old iron bed, with a hunting rifle hanging on the wall and a chamber pot at his feet. When he saw it for the first time, he had been gripped by the old man's wistful smile. There was something timorous and evasive about him. Much later Karsten had discovered the background. A few years earlier the man had accidentally shot and killed his only son while hunting seabirds. From then on the rifle had never come down from the wall, and the man had become a hermit.

    Höglin thought that of all the thousands of photographs and negatives he had seen, this was the one he would never forget. He wished he had taken it himself.

    The clock on his bedside table read half past seven. Höglin usually woke up very early, but he had slept badly that night, the bed and its mattress were uncomfortable. He made up his mind to complain about them when he checked out of the hotel.

    It was the ninth and final day of his...

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Was there a narrator in this audiobook? I can barely remember. And I mean that as the highest compliment. Rosalyn Landor is so in sync with Mankell's stand-alone thriller--so measured, nuanced, selfless--that it's as if the book were downloaded directly to one's brain rather than delivered through an intermediary. There is absolutely no showiness to her performance, and her characterizations are subtle but distinctive. Landor's gifts keep one alert and ever apprehensive in a story that begins in Sweden with the horrifying slaughter of an entire town of people and reaches in surprising directions across continents--to Nevada and China and Africa and London--as well as 150 years of time. With Landor in utter control, one is never in danger of wandering away. M.O. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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