My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/959478824″>4 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
The opening pages transport you into the snowy landscape of norther Sweden, where you feel the solitary wind slicing at the lone photographer who is finishing his collection about the disappearing rural landscape in the tiny hamlet of Hesjovallen. Suddenly, he stumbles upon a scene so shocking it takes a drastic toll.
So begins a multi-layered tale of intrigue and deception, revenge and murder, family and friendship, justice and peace.
While spanning over 130 years of history and touching 4 continents, this novel offers a touch of the epic saga but zeroes in on relationships between spouses and siblings, ancestors, friends and enemies.
Birgitta Roslin, a 50-something judge with high blood pressure and a fading marriage, discovers a personal connection to this horrific tragedy. Unable to resist, she drives to northern Sweden to see what she can discover about her mother’s past. The chance discovery of a diary written by an ancestor detailing his experiences in the building of the American railroad opens a door into that past.
Mankell deftly weaves in the story of Chinese brothers sold as slave labourers and shipped overseas to work on building the American railroad. Ahead to the 1960s when Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book inspired revolutionary changes, a time when Birgitta was at university and caught up in the revolution, and into the present day, when Judge Roslin accompanies a former-revolutionary friend to Beijing.
Author Mankell artfully weaves these multiple threads into a stunning conclusion. An intriguing novel – thriller, drama, historical commentary – an engaging, entertaining and informative read.
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