This is the first in Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series. It’s a competent thriller, but it clearly shows that he hadn’t yet hit his stride. Wallander comes across as a stereotypical depressed policeman: miserable because his wife has left him, out of touch with his daughter, fighting with his father, and getting drunk far too often. He is also the stereotypical highly committed policeman: working until all hours, doggedly following down leads that others had given up on, and racking up large numbers of cuts and bruises in the course of the investigation. In the end he fights against his own personal decline as much as he fights against the decay he sees creeping over Swedish society. You’re left with the impression of a capable character: one who can overcome the obstacles thrown at him. But is he really likeable? Would I have read more Wallander books if this was the first one I had picked up? Maybe not.