The second in a series chronicling the adventures of Sweden’s Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander (Faceless Killers, 1997), and a Viking-sized saga it has grown to be. An ordinary Swedish housewife suddenly disappears. Her neighbors, friends, husband, all are mystified—especially since she led such an exemplary life. But sure enough, a few days later, she’s found brutally murdered, her body stuffed into a well. There’s no obvious suspect at first, but then Wallander learns of a stalker—an excitable type whose interest in the attractive young woman was apparently not discouraged in the slightest by several firm admonitions to get lost. Now that she’s dead, he can’t be found in his usual haunts. The cops go after him, fully confident that it’s a crime of passion they’re dealing with, to be resolved only once the heavy-breather is taken into custody. Soon enough, they do catch him—catch up with him, actually, since it turns out that he’s only been away on holiday. He also has an alibi, one so iron-clad that Wallander has no choice but to write him off as a suspect. And so, what had seemed simple becomes complex and murky. Moreover, the international ramifications of the case just won’t quit. Unexpectedly and uncomfortably, Wallander finds himself locked into an unsettling competition with the apartheid South Africa’s secret police—the story is set in 1993—and also pitted against an ex-KGB agent. Wallander personifies the charmingly melancholy Scandinavian of lore and tradition. But 560 pages of this would hobble the pace, and dim the charisma, of just about any protagonist.