My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Heretofore, Linda Wallander has been a secondary character in the detective series starring her father, Kurt. Now Kurt, a sort of Swedish Inspector Morse in terms of personality and philosophy, is considering retirement. At the same time, Linda, now about 30 years old, has graduated from the police academy and chafing at the bit to start her new job in her father’s department. She’s bored and frustrated with the wait, and her father, seeing that Linda will be an officer in a few weeks, fills her in about his most recent case, some sadistic animal killings followed by a gruesome murder in a state park. In addition to tagging along with her dad, Linda spends time catching up with old friends.
There’s been much speculation about whether author Mankell intends to phase out Kurt and develop a new series around Linda. If so, he’s off to a promising beginning. Placing father and daughter in the same police station is a device that is unlikely at best, but it serves as the platform to launch Linda as protagonist.
Like most adult children and their parents, there are moments of friction in the Wallender relationship, and as Linda observes the pros at their jobs, she compares herself to Kurt and is surprised to discover that she has taken on some of the very characteristics that she dislikes most in him. But she very much wants his approval, hopes that now that they have their work in common, they can truly get to know one another. The rawest of rookies, Linda takes on too much, too soon, making a number of nearly fatal mistakes along the way. As this story unfolds, the mystery deepens, the clues remaining puzzles until the climactic final chapters.