Monday, June 14, 2010

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell

I very much enjoyed the second novel in the "Inspector Kurt Wallander" series by this gifted Swedish writer. Wallander is a complex, thoughtful character and in this story he gets swept up into the dangerous intrigue of a Baltic nation in turmoil as it struggles to develop a new identity after gaining independence from Soviet powers. A life raft holding two murdered men washes ashore near the Swedish town of Ystad, where Wallander works as a police Inspector; eventually the victims are found to be Latvian and after an initial, somewhat fruitless attempt to find answers in Ystad, the case is transferred to Riga and Wallander assumes that he will hear nothing more about it. A terrible series of events draws him to Latvia soon afterward and from that point on, I had a really hard time putting down the book.

I don't want to spoil the story in case you're thinking of giving this series a try, but I was really impressed with the way that Mankell conveyed the strange, grim atmosphere of the city of Riga and the corruption within the political system, which Wallander is trying to get to the bottom of, even though he is a complete stranger in Latvia and is putting his own life at risk.

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