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It was a crime of senseless violence. On a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse, an elderly farmer was bludgeoned to death, his wife left to die with a noose around her neck. As if this didn't present enough problems for Ystad police inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman's last word, his only tangible clue, was "foreign." If publicized, it could be the match that would inflame Sweden's already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.
In this case, unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the young prosecutor who has piqued his interest, Wallander finds a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes—though it will require all of his talent to do so.