After spending much of the summer in an exhausting search for a serial killer, Kurt Wallander gets away to Italy on an idyllic vacation with his father. He returns home to Sweden tanned, relaxed and rejuvenated, but that won't last for long. An elderly car dealer, who writes poetry about birds in his spare time, is reported missing. His body is later found impaled on bamboo spikes in a trap that has obviously been deliberately set for him. It took a long time for the victim to die, and it seems apparent that someone was really angry with him.
Wallander and his team begin the investigation, but there are precious few clues to point them in the direction of the killer. In the meantime, another man, this one a florist, goes missing, and it seems clear that a diabolical killer is on the loose. This is especially scary, because serial killers are very rare in Sweden.
Nothing seems to link the victims, and Wallander and his team are pressed to the limit. Before long, everyone is exhausted from the long hours spent on the investigation, and it seems as though every time the slightest hint of a break in the case emerges, they have to go back to square one and rethink the entire thing.
This is a dark, brooding police procedural with a unique and clever antagonist matched against Wallander and his team. It's often said that a crime novel succeeds only to the extent that the villain is a worthy match for the protagonist, and that's certainly the case here. The killer has a long list of potential victims, and Wallander will be sorely tested if he and his team are going to save them. This is another very good entry in the series and should appeal to any fan of Scandinavian mysteries.