Photo of Riga by Desmond Kavanagh used under a Creative Commons license.
Henning Mankell, The Dogs of Riga (Vintage, 2004).
Mankell’s provincial Swedish detective, Kurt Wallender, investigates the deaths of two men washed ashore in a life raft. The case leads him to Riga, Latvia, where he finds himself embroiled in something larger. The novel is set against a backdrop of political change and instability in Latvia in 1991, when the Berlin Wall had come down and the country was struggling to escape Russia’s orbit.
Here is a biography of Mankell on his official website. Here is a page about the book on a fan site. Google BookSearch has a preview. Blogger jborras4 has a shorter passage. Jane Jakeman (The Independent) calls it atmospheric and gripping fiction, never mind the middle-aged male anxieties. Sue Magee says the tension is palpable. Listen to Maureen Corrigan’s review for Fresh Air. Andris Straumanis at Latvians Online says that for a reader familiar with recent Latvian history, it’s fascinating to see Mankell depict the calm before the storm. Comparing it to Mankell’s more traditional police procedurals, Simon Quicke was somewhat underwhelmed. S.E. Smith says it’s dark and creepy. Payal Dhar thinks it’s compelling and suspenseful. Kate S. was utterly satisfied. Dorothy says it also offers a lot to think about. But Ken Wedding wasn’t blown away, and Norwegian blogger Moonknight was even more disappointed. Maxine has Joe Queenan writing about the Nordic Mystery Boom, and another Maxine (or the same?) follows up at Petrona.