Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell

When a life-raft floats up the coast of Ystad, Sweden, with two well-dressed men shot dead, Kurt Wallander starts his investigation. Who were these men and where were they from? How long did the life-raft float before reaching Sweden? There looks to be some connection with Latvia and Major Karlis Liepa from Riga visits Sweden to help Wallander with the case.

Wallander from the beginning hopes to push on the case to some other country. When the opportunity appears, won't he be happy? Only circumstance turn around, Major Liepa is murdered in Riga and Wallander is obliged to visit Riga to help in the investigation. Not knowing the language is not just the trouble, why is the Riga Police keeping watch on him and Baiba Liepa contacts Wallander secretly. What is happening here? The story is placed in the background of the freedom movement in Latvia in 1991.

Why is Wallander called to Riga? The Latvian police could have closed the case without causing much trouble. Wallander has quite an adventure, a small-town detective from Sweden, gets involved in greater things than he could ever imagine. When his adventures take a nightmarish turn, what will Wallander do? The Dogs of Riga are on the scent of Wallander, will he able to keep them at bay and find the truth. The hunter is closing on the prey. But who is hunting the hunter?

I have never seen a police officer in fiction who is so keen to push the case to somebody else. And when the time comes to quitting the case, he clings to it. The story moves away from the initial murders into international conspiracies and freedom movement. Wallander has a sense of somebody watching him throughout. We get a feel of what it is to live in a country under Soviet influence just before the fall of Soviet Union, under constant vigilance. Mankell plays a nice little trick in the end. This book is translated from Swedish by Laurie Thompson and published in English in 2001. An exciting adventure. I look forward to read more books featuring Kurt Wallander.

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