A few of the questions that you are left with at the end of the first book are answered reasonably quickly with Wallander’s colleague dying of cancer and his personal life bedding down into a position of phoning his father on a daily basis and wondering if his daughter is happy.
Back at work a phone call that tips off the police that a life raft with two dead bodies inside is going to wash up on a local beach is all that disturbs Wallander on a night the snow comes in.
The boat has been discovered by fishermen and towed near to the shore before they cut it adrift not wanting to get involved with the police. The two men are embracing each other wearing expensive suits and when they do wash up on the beach the police are called in. Wallander keeps wondering what his old colleague Rydberg would have done but without his friend, who died of cancer in between books one and two, he has to try and struggle on alone.
The case does not seem to be easy and when it emerges that the victims are from Eastern Europe the hope is that the Swedish police can wash their hands of the whole thing. That wish seems to come true after the Foreign Office gets involved and it is established that the men originated from Riga and are known criminals to the Latvian Police.
A Latvian police officer is sent over to help with the investigation and he manages to explain that his country is dominated by drugs and gangs and these men were involved with both. He heads back to Riga with the coffins and documents from the Swedish police handing the responsibility back to the Latvian police.
But the policeman turns up dead hours later and Wallander is sent over to throw any light on the last investigation he was involved with.
This is a slow burner and a clever approach because you get a sense that Wallander and his men do not want the case and as a result their emotional involvement is not as great as it might have been. But with the case coming back to haunt Wallander and a trip to unknown and unfamiliar Riga in store the thriller changes gear.