A tense and gripping psychological thriller: Mankell's best book yet.
October 1914: the destroyer Svea emerged from the Stockholm archipelago bearing south-south-east. On board was Lars Tobiasson-Svartman, a naval engineer charged with making depth soundings to find a navigable channel for the Swedish navy. As a child Tobiasson-Svartman was fascinated by measurement; nothing is as magical as exact knowledge. His instinct for his profession is reflected in the comfortable domesticity he enjoys with his wife - herself meticulous in every detail.
Close to the waters where soundings are taken Tobiasson-Svartman alights on a barren skerry, presumed uninhabited, and is surprised to discover there a young woman, Sara Fredrika. Despite her almost feral appearance, something about her strikes him to the core. The mission is a success and the Svea returns to Gothenburg. Tobiasson-Svartman, however, remains haunted by this chance encounter; his equilibrium has been disturbed, and he is now compelled to find any pretence to return to the remote islet.
In DEPTHS Mankell confirms his status as a writer beyond the crime genre. By delving deep into the male psyche, he has produced a novel both as tense and compelling in every way as the Wallander series, but also powerful, moving and ultimately tragic.
“It is when he eschews poetics that his gifts - psychological acuity and compassion - are best displayed”
Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph
“The end result is some brilliantly atmospheric writing and insightful analysis”
Jessica Mann, Literary Review
“Mesmerically fascinating in Laurie Thompson's fluent translation, Depths has, for all the authenticities of period, much of the folk-ballad about it...this novel is as fine a narrative performance as any of Mankell's yet”
Paul Binding, Independent
“The fog-bound islands off the Stockholm coast are beautifully evoked...Questions of morality in politics, of justice and democracy, are explicitly raised”
“There is a haunting quality to Mankell's writing in Laurie Thompson's translation, and he is good at isolation and loneliness”
Marcel Berlins, The Times
“A noirish psychological thriller, steeped in eerie premonitions and symbolism, in prose that's as cold, empty and pitiless as the landscape it describes”
“The fog-bound islands and grey October skies of the Baltic are beautifully evoked; only Mankell can summon with such a dream-like intensity the Nordic landscapes and climates he knows so well...Mankell is, without doubt, one of the most impressive crime writers at work in Europe today”
Ian Thomson, Guardian
“A surprising departure. This is no police procedural, but a terse, gripping dissection of a broken man whose private morality is as barren as the frozen wastes that betray his destiny”
Chris Moss, TLS
Ed Miliband, Guardian Summer Reading