Wallander had expected Major Liepa to be in uniform when he arrived at the police station in Ystad, but the man Bj?rk introduced him to on the sixth day of the investigation was wearing a baggy grey suit and a badly knotted tie. Moreover, he was short, with hunched shoulders that seemed to suggest he had no neck at all, and Wallander could see no trace of any military bearing. Major Liepa’s first name was Karlis, and he was a chain-smoker: his fingers were yellow with nicotine stains from his extra-strong cigarettes.

The morning was grey and windy. A snowstorm was expected over Sk?ne towards evening, and since a particularly nasty flu virus had gained a foothold among the police, Bj?rk felt he had to release Svedberg from the case for the time being: there was an urgent list of other crimes awaiting immediate attention. Lov?n and R?nnlund had gone back to Stockholm, and as Bj?rk was not feeling too well, he left Martinsson and Wallander to get on with the investigation with Major Liepa. They were sitting around in the conference room, and Major Liepa was chain-smoking.

The major’s smoking habits presented a serious problem at the station. Anti-smoking agitators protested to Bj?rk that Liepa smoked all the time, particularly in smoke-free areas of the station. Bj?rk urged his colleagues to display a degree of tolerance that guests had a right to expect, but he also asked Wallander to find a tactful way of explaining that the smoking ban must be observed. When Wallander summoned up his shaky English and explained how important it was for Swedish rules regarding smoking to be observed, Liepa shrugged and stubbed out his cigarette without further ado. From then on he made an effort to avoid smoking anywhere other than in Wallander’s office and the conference room, but even Wallander was finding it hard to put up with the smoke, and he asked Bj?rk that Major Liepa be given an office of his own. In the end, Svedberg moved in with Martinsson, and Liepa was installed in Svedberg’s office.

Major Liepa was very short-sighted. His rimless spectacles seemed to be much too weak, and when he was reading he held documents only a couple of inches in front of his eyes. He seemed to sniff the paper, rather than scrutinising it, and anyone watching found it hard not to laugh out loud. Wallander occasionally heard officers making disparaging remarks about the little hunchbacked Latvian major, but he had no hesitation in discouraging such condescending behaviour. He had found Liepa an extremely shrewd and perceptive police officer; not unlike Rydberg, not least in being passionate in his enthusiasm. Criminal cases might nearly always be subject to standard procedures, but Wallander knew that was no reason to let one’s thoughts get into a rut. Major Liepa was an inspired detective, and his colourless appearance camouflaged a clever man and an experienced investigator.

The previous evening Wallander had played canasta with his father, and then set his alarm clock for 5 a.m. so he would have time to read a brochure about Latvia that a local bookseller had found for him. It had occurred to him that it would be a good idea to begin by informing each other as to how the police forces in their respective countries actually worked. The fact that the Latvian police used military ranks indicated big differences between the two forces. Over his morning coffee Wallander had tried to formulate some general principles in English concerning the working methods of the Swedish police, but it struck him that he didn’t really know how the Swedish police force worked. Things weren’t made any easier by the fact that the national police commissioner had recently introduced wide-ranging reforms, and Wallander seemed to be endlessly reading badly written memos describing the changes. When he asked Bj?rk what these changes really meant, he had been given vague, evasive replies. Now, sitting opposite the chain-smoking major, he reckoned he might as well forget all such matters – if any misunderstanding arose they would sort it out.

When Bj?rk had excused himself, coughing away heartily, Wallander decided that it was time to break the ice. He asked Major Liepa where he was staying in Ystad.

“In a hotel,” Liepa replied. “I don’t know what it’s called.”

Wallander was disconcerted. Liepa seemed to have no interest in anything other than the case in hand.

Better leave the polite chit-chat until later, he thought. All we have in common is an investigation into a double murder, nothing else.

Major Liepa embarked on a long and detailed account of how the Latvian police had been able to establish the identity of the two dead men. His English was not good, and this obviously irritated him. During one of their breaks,

Wallander rang his bookseller friend and asked whether he had an English-Latvian dictionary in stock, but he didn’t.

They were going to have to undertake a difficult journey together with very little of a common language.


After more than nine hours of intensive reading of reports – Martinsson and Wallander staring at their copies of an incomprehensible, stencilled document in Latvian while Major Liepa translated, pausing all the while to try and find the right word before continuing – Wallander thought he had more or less grasped what had happened. Despite their comparative youth, Leja and Kalns had made a name for themselves as a pair of volatile and predatory criminals. Wallander noted the contempt with which Major Liepa described them as members of the Russian minority in his country. He had known that the large group of ethnic Russians that had lived in Latvia since Russia annexed the Baltic states at the end of the Second World War were opposed to the campaign for national liberation, but he hadn’t been aware of the extent of the problem. He simply didn’t have the political insight, he told himself. Major Liepa made no attempt to conceal his disgust at this situation, making it plain on several occasions.

“These Russians were bandits,” he said, “members of our eastern Mafia.”

Leja was 28 and Kalns barely 30, but they each had substantial criminal records: robbery, assault, smuggling and illegal currency transactions. The Riga police suspected that at least three murders could be attributed to the pair, but it had not been possible to bring charges.

When Major Liepa finished translating the reports and extracts from criminal records, Wallander asked a question that seemed to him crucial.

“These men have committed many big crimes,” he said. (Martinsson interjected, suggesting that a better word in English might be “serious”) “What appears odd is the fact that they have only been in prison for very short periods.

I mean, they were convicted criminals and had been sentenced.”

Major Liepa’s face broke into a broad smile, and he seemed keen to respond. That was a question he was hoping for, Wallander thought. It was worth more than all the polite exchanges he could have mustered.

“I have to explain the situation in my country,” Major Liepa said, lighting another cigarette. “No more than 15 per cent of the population of Latvia are Russians, but even so, Russians have controlled our country in every way since the end of the war. The sending in of Russian nationals is one way used by Moscow to suppress us – it might be the most effective method used. You ask me why Leja and Kalns have spent so little time in prison when they should really have been there for life, even executed. Well I do not say that all public prosecutors and judges are corrupt: that would be an over-simplification, it would be a controversial and unethical claim. What I say is that Leja and Kalns had powerful protectors behind them.”

“The Russian Mafia,” Wallander said.

“Yes and no. The Mafia in our country also needs subtle protectors. I’m convinced that Leja and Kalns spent a lot of their time serving the KGB. The secret police never likes to see its own men in prison, unless they are traitors or defectors. The shadow of Stalin has always hovered over the heads of people like that.”

The same is true of Sweden, was Wallander’s immediate reaction. We might not be able to refer to such a monster in our recent history, but a complicated network of interdependent individuals is not the exclusive preserve of a totalitarian state.

“The KGB,” Major Liepa said. “And the Mafia. They’re linked. Everything is connected by links only the initiated can see.”

“The Mafia,” Martinsson interrupted, who so far had remained silent, apart from helping Wallander with his English. “That’s something new for us in Sweden, the concept of well-organised Russian or East European crime syndicates. A few years ago the Swedish police became aware of gangs of Russian origin, in Stockholm especially, we still know very little about them. There have been isolated incidents of brutality warning us that something of this kind was appearing in Sweden, and we are aware that over the next few years this type of criminal will seek to infiltrate our own underworld, and establish themselves in key positions.”

Wallander was jealous of the fluent way that Martinsson could express himself in English. His pronunciation might be awful, but his vocabulary was much richer than Wallander’s. Why didn’t the national police board provide courses in English, instead of all those daft jamborees about staff development and internal democracy?

“I’m sure you’re right,” Major Liepa said. “As the Communist states start to disintegrate, they behave like shipwrecked sailing boats: the criminals are the rats, the first to leave the sinking ship. They have contacts; they have money; they also have access to advice. A lot of the refugees from the Eastern bloc are nothing but criminals. Not fleeing oppression, but seeking new territory. It’s easy for them to forge a new past and identity.”

“Major Liepa,” Wallander said. “You say that this is what you believe the situation to be. You do not know for certain?”

“I’m certain,” replied Major Liepa, “but I can’t prove it. Not yet.”

Wallander realised that in Major Liepa’s words were references and significance he couldn’t recognise or understand. In Major Liepa’s country, criminal activities were linked with a political elite that had the authority to overrule and directly influence the sentencing of criminals. The two dead men had criminal backgrounds. Who would want them dead? And why?

It occurred to Wallander that as far as Major Liepa was concerned every criminal investigation involved his search for proof of a political implication: maybe that’s how we should approach things in Sweden, he thought. Maybe we have to accept that we just aren’t digging deeply enough into the criminal activity all around us.

“The men,” Martinsson asked. “Who killed them?”

“I don’t know,” Major Liepa replied. “They were executed, of course – but why tortured? What did the killers want to know before they silenced Leja and Kalns? Did they find out what they wanted to know? I also have many unanswered questions.”

“We’re hardly going to find the answers here in Sweden,” Wallander said.

“I know,” Major Liepa said. “The solution might possibly be found in Latvia.”

Wallander pricked up his ears. Why had he said “possibly”?

“If we can’t find the answer in Latvia, where can we find it?” he asked. “Further away.”

“Further to the east?” suggested Martinsson.

“Or possibly further south,” Major Liepa said hesitantly, and both Martinsson and Wallander recognised that he didn’t want to reveal what he was thinking for the moment.

They decided they had done all they could for the day.

Thanks to all the sitting down and the laborious discussions they’d had with the major, Wallander could feel the repercussions of an old lumbago attack. Martinsson promised to help Major Liepa change some currency at the bank, and Wallander suggested that he also get in touch with Lov?n in Stockholm, to find out the latest on the ballistic investigation. Wallander’s own task was to write a report on what had happened at the meeting. The prosecutor, Anette Brolin, had let it be known that she would appreciate an update as soon as possible.

La Brolin, thought Wallander as he left the smoke-filled conference room and set off down the corridor. This is a case you’re not going to be able to take to court. We’ll off-load it to Riga as soon as we can, together with two corpses and a red life-raft. Then we can put the rubber stamp on our own investigation, and maintain that we’ve done all we can and have “no reason to initiate further investigation”.

Wallander wrote his report after lunch, while Martinsson looked after Major Liepa, who had expressed a desire to buy some clothes for his wife. Wallander had just phoned the prosecutor’s office and had been told that Anette Brolin was free and would see him, when Martinsson strode into his office.

“What have you done with the major?” Wallander asked. “He’s in his room, smoking,” Martinsson said. “He’s already dropped ash all over Svedberg’s fancy carpet.” “Has he had anything to eat?”

“I treated him to the lunch of the day at the Hornblower. Dumplings. I don’t think he liked them – he spent most of the time smoking and drinking coffee.”

“Did you reach Lov?n?”

“He’s away with flu.”

“Have you talked to anybody else?”

“It’s impossible to reach anybody by phone, nobody’s in. Nobody knows when they’re coming back. Someone promises that they’ll call back, but no one ever does.”

“Maybe R?nnlund could give you a hand?”

“I tried him as well, but he was out on business. Nobody knew what business, where he was, or when he was coming back.”

“Better try again. I have to see the prosecutor about this report. I’m assuming we can hand the case over to Major Liepa rather soon – the bodies, the life-raft and the documentation. He’s welcome to take the whole shooting match back to Riga with him.”

“That’s what I came to talk to you about.”

“What is?”

“The life-raft.”

“What about it?”

“Major Liepa wanted to examine it.”

“Well, all he had to do was to go down to the basement.”

“It’s not quite as simple as that.”

Wallander could feel himself getting annoyed. Martinsson sometimes took forever to get to the point.

“What’s so difficult about walking down the stairs to the basement?”

“The raft’s not there.”

Wallander stared at Martinsson in astonishment. “What do you mean ‘not there’?” “Not there.”

“What on earth do you mean? It’s on a couple of trestles, where you and Captain ?sterdahl examined it. By the way, we ought to write to him and thank him for his help – good that you reminded me of that.”

“The trestles are still there” said Martinsson, “but the life-raft isn’t.”

Wallander put his papers down on his desk, and hurried down into the basement, closely followed by Martinsson. He was right. The two wooden trestles had been overturned and were lying there on the concrete floor, and the life-raft was nowhere to be seen.

“What the bloody hell’s going on?” Wallander shouted.

Martinsson was hesitant, as if he didn’t really believe what he was saying.

“There’s been a break-in. Hansson was down here last night, and the life-raft was here then. This morning one of the traffic police noticed that the door had been forced, so it must have been stolen during the night.”

“That’s impossible,” Wallander said. “How can the police station have been burgled? There are people here round the clock, for God’s sake. Is anything else missing? Why hasn’t anybody said anything about this?”

“A patrol officer reported it to Hansson, but he forgot to tell you. There was nothing here apart from the raft, and all the other doors were locked. None of them has been forced. Whoever did this was after the life-raft, and nothing else.”

Wallander stared at the overturned trestles. Somewhere deep down he could feel a worry starting to gnaw away at him.

“Martinsson,” he said slowly, “can you remember off the top of your head whether any of the newspapers reported that the life-raft was in the basement at the police station?”

“Yes,” he said. “I remember reading that. I also seem to remember there was a photographer down here. But who would take the risk of breaking into a police station to get their hands on a life-raft?”

“You’ve hit the nail on the head,” Wallander said. “Who would take a risk like that?” “I’m lost,” Martinsson said.

“Maybe Major Liepa will have the answer,” Wallander said. “Bring him here. Then we’ll have a thorough search. And tell somebody to get hold of the patrol officer. Who was it?”

“I think it was Peters. He’s probably at home now, in bed. If it snows tomorrow night, he’s going to have a hard shift.”

“We’ll have to wake him,” Wallander said. “We have no alternative.”

When Martinsson left, Wallander inspected the door. It was a thick, steel door with a double lock, but the burglars had got in without doing any visible damage to the door itself. Obviously the lock had been picked. These people knew what they were doing, Wallander thought. They knew how to pick a lock at any rate. He took another look at the overturned trestles. He’d inspected the life-raft himself, and had been absolutely certain he hadn’t missed anything. Martinsson and ?sterdahl had also examined the raft, and so had R?nnlund and Lov?n.

What didn’t we notice? There has to be something, he thought.

Martinsson reappeared with the major, cigarette in hand. Wallander switched on all the lights, and Martinsson explained to the major what had happened. Wallander was watching him. As he’d expected, Liepa showed no surprise. He only nodded slowly, then turned to Wallander.

“You had examined the life-raft,” he said. “A retired captain had specified that it had been made in Yugoslavia, I think. That’s no doubt correct – there are many

Yugoslavian life-rafts on Latvian vessels, including police boats. But you had examined the raft, I believe?”

“Yes,” Wallander answered. And then he realised the fatal error he’d made. Nobody had let the air out of the rubber boat, nobody had looked inside it. It had not occurred to him to do so. Major Liepa seemed to have understood already, and Wallander felt embarrassed. How could he have failed to open the raft up? He would have thought of it sooner or later, of course, but he ought to have done it straight away. It would be a waste of time to explain to Major Liepa what he’d already worked out for himself.

“What could have been inside?” he asked.

Major Liepa shrugged.

“Drugs, I suppose,” he said.

Wallander thought for a moment.

“That doesn’t follow. Two corpses are dumped in a life-raft filled with drugs? Then left to drift wherever the wind takes it?”

“That’s right,” said Major Liepa. “Perhaps a mistake had been made. The person who collected the life-raft was given the task of putting it right.”

They made a minute inspection of the whole basement. Wallander hurried up to reception and asked Ebba to devise a plausible emergency that had prevented him from presenting his report to Anette Brolin. The news that the police station had been burgled spread like wildfire, and Bj?rk came storming down the stairs.

“If this gets out,” he said, “we’ll be the laughing stock of the whole country.”

“This won’t be leaked,” Wallander said. “It’s too painful.”

Wallander told Bj?rk what he guessed had happened, realising that Bj?rk would have serious reservations as to whether he was competent to run a serious crime investigation. It had been an inexcusable lapse.

Have I grown complacent? he wondered. Am I even up to being a security officer at the Trelleborg Rubber Company? Maybe the best thing would be for me to go back on the beat again in Malm??

They found not a single clue. No fingerprints, no footprints on the dusty floor. The gravel outside the forced door had been churned up by police cars, and there was nothing to indicate that any of the tyre tracks weren’t from the police’s own cars. Eventually they agreed that there was nothing more they could do, and they went back to the conference room. Peters had turned up, sullen and angry at having been called in. All he could contribute was the exact time that he had discovered the break-in. Wallander had also checked with the night duty staff, but nobody had seen or heard anything. Nothing. Nothing at all. Wallander suddenly felt very tired. He had a headache from Major Liepa’s cigarettes. What should I do now? he wondered. What would Rydberg have done?

Two days later the missing life-raft was still a mystery. Major Liepa had advised that trying to track it down would waste resources. Wallander had to agree, however reluctantly, but he couldn’t shake off the sense of having made an unforgivable mistake. He was despondent, and woke every morning with a headache.

Sk?ne was in the grip of a fierce snowstorm. The police were warning people via the radio to stay at home and venture out on to the roads only if it was absolutely essential. Wallander’s father was snowed in, but when he phoned, his father told him he hadn’t even noticed that the road was deep in snow drifts. The chaos caused by the blizzard meant that more or less no progress was made with the case. Major Liepa had shut himself in Svedberg’s office and was studying the ballistic report. Wallander had a long meeting with Anette Brolin. Every time he met her he was stung by the memory of the crush he had on her the year before; but the memory seemed unreal, as if he’d imagined it all. Brolin contacted the director of public prosecutions, and the legal section of the foreign ministry, to get approval to close the case in Sweden and hand it over to the police in Riga. Major Liepa had also arranged for his headquarters to make a formal request to the foreign ministry.

On an evening when the blizzard was at its height, Wallander invited Major Liepa round to his flat. He’d bought a botde of whisky, which they emptied during the course of the evening. Wallander started feeling drunk after a couple of glasses, but Major Liepa appeared completely unaffected. Wallander had started addressing him simply as “major”, and he didn’t seem to object. It wasn’t easy to hold a conversation with the Latvian police officer. Wallander couldn’t decide whether this was due to shyness, if his poor English embarrassed him, or if he might have a touch of aristocratic reserve. Wallander told him about his family, chiefly Linda and the college she was at in Stockholm. For his part, Major Liepa said simply that he was married to a woman named Baiba, but that they had no children. As the evening wore on, they sat for long intervals holding their glasses, saying nothing.

“Sweden and Latvia,” Wallander said, “are there any similarities? Or is everything different? I try to picture Latvia, but I just can’t. And yet we’re neighbours.”

The moment he’d uttered the question, Wallander realised it was pointless. Sweden was not a country governed as a colony by a foreign power. There were no barricades in the streets of Sweden. Innocent people were not shot or run over by military vehicles. Surely everything was different?

The major’s reply was surprising.

“I’m a religious man,” he said. “I don’t believe in a particular God, but even so one can have a faith, something beyond the limits of rationality. Marxism has a large element of built-in faith, although it claims to be a science and not merely an ideology. This is my first visit to the West: until now I have only been able to go to the Soviet Union or Poland or the Baltic states. In your country I see an abundance of material things. It seems to be unlimited. But there’s a difference between our countries that is also a similarity. Both are poor. You see, poverty has different faces. We lack the abundance that you have, and we don’t have the freedom of choice. In your country I detect a kind of poverty, which is that you do not need to fight for your survival. For me the struggle has a religious dimension, and I would not want to exchange that for your abundance.”

Wallander knew the major had prepared this speech in advance: he hadn’t paused to search for words. But what exactly had he said? Swedish poverty? Wallander felt he must protest.

“You’re wrong, major,” he said. “There’s a struggle going on in this country too. A lot of people here are excluded – was that the right word? – from the abundance you describe. Nobody starves to death, it is true, but you are wrong if you think we don’t have to fight.”

“One can only fight for survival,” the major said. “I include the fight for freedom and independence. Whatever a person does beyond that is something they choose to do, not something they have to do.”

Silence followed. Wallander would have liked to ask so many questions, not least about recent events in Riga, but he didn’t want to reveal his ignorance. Instead, he got up and put on a Maria Callas record.

“Turandot? the major said. “Very beautiful.”

The snow and wind raged outside as Wallander watched the major striding away towards his hotel soon after midnight. He was hunched into the wind, wearing his cumbersome overcoat.

The snowstorm had blown itself out by the following morning, and blocked roads could be reopened.

When Wallander woke up, he had a hangover, but he’d made a decision. While they were awaiting the decision from the director of public prosecutions, he would take Major Liepa with him to Brantevik to see the fishing boat he’d visited one night the week before.

Just after 9 a.m. they were in Wallander’s car, heading east. The snow-covered landscape glittered in the bright sunshine, it was -3°C.

The harbour was deserted. Several fishing boats were moored at the jetty furthest out, but Wallander couldn’t tell straight away which one he’d been on. They walked out along the jetty, Wallander counting 73 steps.

The boat was called Byron. It was timber-built, painted white, and about 40 feet long. Wallander grasped the thick mooring rope and closed his eyes: did he recognise it? He couldn’t say. They clambered aboard. A dark red tarpaulin was lashed over the hold. As they approached the wheel-house, which was secured by a large padlock, Wallander tripped over a coiled hawser, and knew he was on the right boat. The major pulled loose a corner of the tarpaulin and shone a torch into the hold: it was empty.

“No smell of fish,” Wallander said. “No sign of any fish scales, no nets. This boat is used for smuggling. But what are they smuggling? And where to?”

“Everything,” said the major. “There has been an acute shortage of everything in the Baltic states up until now, and so smugglers can bring us anything at all.”

“I’ll find out who owns the boat,” Wallander said. “Even if I’ve made a promise, I can still find out who owns it. Would you have made the promise I did, major?”

“No,” Major Liepa replied. “I’d never have done that.”

There wasn’t much more to see. When they got back to Ystad Wallander spent the afternoon trying to establish who owned the Byron. It wasn’t easy. It had changed owners numerous times in the last few years, and one of the many owners had been a trading company in Simrishamn with the imaginative name Wankers’ Fish. Next the boat had been sold to a fisherman by the name of Ohrstrom, who had sold it after only a few months. Wallander eventually managed to establish that a Sten Holmgren, who lived in Ystad, now owned the boat. Wallander was surprised to find that they actually lived in the same street, Mariagatan. He looked up Sten Holmgren in the phone book, but didn’t find him. There were no records of a company owned by Sten Holmgren at the county offices in Malm?. To be on the safe side Wallander also checked the county offices in Kristianstad and Karlskrona, but there was no trace of a Sten Holmgren there either.

Wallander flung down his pencil and went for a cup of coffee. The phone started ringing as he returned to his office. It was Anette Brolin.

“Guess what I have to tell you,” she said.

“That you’re dissatisfied with one of our investigations again?”

“Of course I am, but that’s not what I was going to say.” “Then I’ve no idea.”

“The case is to be closed, and the whole matter will be transferred to Riga.” “Is that definite?”

“The director of public prosecutions and the foreign ministry are in complete agreement. They both say the case should be abandoned. I’ve just heard. The formalities seem to have been sorted out in double quick time. Your major can go home now, and take the bodies with him.”

“He’ll be glad about that,” Wallander said. “Going home, that is.” “Any regrets?” “None at all.”

“Ask him to come and see me. I’ve told Bj?rk. Is Liepa around?”

“He’s in Svedberg’s office, smoking his head off. I’ve never met a heavier smoker.”

Early the next day Major Liepa caught a flight to Stockholm with a connection to Riga. The two zinc-lined coffins went to Stockholm in a hearse, and onwards by air cargo.

Wallander and Major Liepa said their goodbyes at the check-in at Sturup. Wallander had bought an illustrated book on Sk?ne as a farewell present – it was the best he could think of.

“I’d like to hear how things turn out,” he said.

“You’ll be kept informed,” the major told him.

They shook hands, and Major Liepa went on his way.

A strange man, Wallander thought as he drove away from the airport. I wonder what he really thought of me.

The next day was Saturday. Wallander had a lie-in, then drove to L?derup to see his father. He had his supper at a pizzeria, with a few glasses of red wine. All the time he was wondering whether or not he should apply for the post at the Trelleborg Rubber Company. The closing date was fast approaching. He spent Sunday morning first in the laundry room, then applying himself to the unwelcome task of cleaning his flat. In the evening he went to the last cinema left in Ystad. It was showing an American police thriller, and he had to admit to himself that it was exciting, despite its unrealistic exaggerations.

On Monday he was in his office shortly after 8 a.m., and had just taken off his jacket when Bj?rk came marching in.

“We’ve had a telex from the Riga police,” he said. “From Major Liepa? What’s he got to say?” Bj?rk seemed embarrassed.

“I’m afraid Major Liepa is not able to write anything at all,” Bj?rk said uneasily. “He has been murdered. The day he got home. A police colonel, name of Putnis, signs this telex. They’re asking for our assistance, and I imagine that means you’ll have to go there.”

Wallander sat at his desk and read the telex.

The major dead? Murdered?

“I’m sorry about this,” Bj?rk said. “It’s awful. I’ll ring the police commissioner and ask him to respond to their request.”

Wallander flopped back in his chair. Major Liepa murdered? He could feel a lump in his throat. Who could have killed the short-sighted, chain-smoking little man? And why? His thoughts went to Rydberg, who was also dead. Suddenly he felt very lonely.

Three days later he left for Latvia. It was shortly before 2 p.m. on 28 February. As the Aeroflot plane swung left and flew over the Gulf of Riga, Wallander stared down at the sea and wondered what lay in store for him.