The opening of the fourth novel in this series finds Kurt Wallander in a deep depression. At the conclusion of the last book, he shot a man to death, and even though it was clearly a case of self-defense, he's devastated by the fact that he has taken another man's life. After brooding over the incident for more than a year, Wallander resolves to quit the police force and is at the point of turning in his papers when a very bizarre case grabs his attention.
An elderly lawyer has died. The reader knows right away that the man was murdered, but the murder is successfully disguised as an auto accident and fools the initial investigation. The man's son, also a lawyer, makes a clandestine visit to Kurt Wallander, who is still recovering, and tries to convince him to investigate his father's death.
Wallander refuses and presses ahead with his intention to resign. But then the son is murdered and Wallander determines to investigate. He returns to the force, and quickly proves that the father's death was a homicide and not accident. But trying to identify the killer will take all of Wallander's considerable skills--that is, if he survives that long.
This is another very good entry in the series. The characters are fully developed; the plot is engaging, and the police investigation seems very realistic. Fans of the series will enjoy it and it should appeal to any fan of Scandinavian crime fiction. Kurt Wallander is the polar opposite of someone like Lucas Davenport who could easily kill a couple of bad guys before breakfast and not worry about it any longer than lunch. He's the prototypical Scandinavian detective--introspective, depressed, and relatively humorless, which makes him an occasionally nice change of pace from his American counterparts.