February, 1991. A life raft washes ashore in Skåne carrying two dead men in expensive suits, shot gangland-style. Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team determine that the men were Eastern European criminals. But what appears in Sweden to be an open-and-shut case soon plunges Wallander into an alien world of police surveillance, thinly veiled threats, and life-endangering lies.
When another murder is committed, Wallander must travel to Riga, Latvia, at the peak of the massive social and political upheaval that preceded the nation’s independence from the Soviet Union. Struggling to catch up with the culprits he pursues in this shadowy nation, Wallander finds that he must make a choice, decide who is lying and who is telling the truth, and test his bravery.
From Publishers Weekly
Set against the chaotic backdrop of eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mankell's intense, accomplished mystery, the last in his Kurt Wallander series (Firewall, etc.), explores one man's struggle to find truth and justice in a society increasingly bereft of either. Here the provincial Swedish detective takes on a probably fruitless task: investigating the murders of two unidentified men washed up on the Swedish coast in an inflatable dinghy. The only clues: their dental work suggests they're from an Eastern Bloc country; the raft is Yugoslavian. But their deaths mushroom into an international incident that takes Wallander to Riga, Latvia, and enmeshes him in an incredibly dangerous and emotionally draining situation, battling forces far larger than the "bloodless burglaries and frauds" he typically pursues in Sweden. In Riga, Wallander must deal with widespread governmental corruption, which opens his eyes to the chilling reality of life in the totalitarian Eastern Bloc: grim, harrowing and volatile. Wallander's introspection and self-doubt make him compellingly real, and his efforts to find out what happened to those men on the life raft makes for riveting reading. There's a pervasive sense of Scandinavian gloom, in Wallander and in the novel, that might be difficult for some American readers, but this is a very worthy book-a unique combination of police procedural and spy thriller that also happens to be a devastating critique of Soviet-style Communism.
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"Inspector Wallander has touches of Dexter's Inspector Morse about him, while remaining an original and highly likeable creation" Marcel Berlins, The Times; "It is not hard to see why the Wallander books have made a particular impact. They are tightly plotted, but even more importantly, as in most good crime fiction, the character of the detective and the atmosphere surrounding the action are what give that extra edge to the performance" Hugh Macpherson, Times Literary Supplement