A disappearance and a murder nearly 20 years apart trouble the sleep of Gothenburg’s Chief Inspector Erik Winter and his much younger self.
There’s something familiar about the Hotel Revy and desk clerk Richard Salko and room number 10, where Paula Ney has been found hanged, one of her hands painted white. And no wonder, since one of Winter’s very first cases, back in 1987, began in the very same room, which Ellen Börge, after leaving her husband Christer’s home, checked into before she vanished. What connection could there be between the disappearance of one woman and the violent death of another nearly a generation later? With the help of his guilt-ridden memory and a long series of flashbacks, Winter painstakingly revisits the earlier case—not just the fruitless interviews and the leads that petered out into dead ends, but his agitation about working for the first time with prickly DI Fredrik Halders, who’s still on the homicide squad today. Pondering the Neys, Winter asks, “What is the secret, this family’s secret? If I knew that, I’d know everything.” Working patiently, he draws out the inevitable links between the two incidents, which are as shocking as they are intimate. Another murder helps narrow his focus to three persons of interest: Christer Börge, who never seemed quite right 18 years ago; Paula’s father, Mario, whose wife is a pivotal figure in the investigation; and Jonas Sandler, who was only a troubled boy when Ellen disappeared but is now a troubled man.
As majestically lumbering as Henning Mankell at his most grueling, with a finale out of Stieg Larsson.