The Dogs of Riga

The Dogs of Riga

Second in the Kurt Wallander series.Sweden, winter, 1991. Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team receive an anonymous tip-off. A few days later a life raft is washed up on a beach. In it are two men, dressed in expensive suits, shot dead. The dead men were criminals, victims of what seems to have been a gangland hit. But what appears to be an open-and-shut case soon takes o...

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Title:The Dogs of Riga
Author:Henning Mankell
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Edition Language:English

The Dogs of Riga Reviews

  • Jenny

    Obviously if you have been paying attention to what I have been adding to my bookshelf lately I live in a world where nothing exists besides Henning Mankell. Although sometimes I take small breaks to watch my Netflix versions of Brother Cadfael which are of course just for fun. Shits and giggles aside, Mankell has got me hooked into his particular brand of literary detective story because he manages to combine the standard suspense driven narrative one might expect from that 'genre' of books tha

    Obviously if you have been paying attention to what I have been adding to my bookshelf lately I live in a world where nothing exists besides Henning Mankell. Although sometimes I take small breaks to watch my Netflix versions of Brother Cadfael which are of course just for fun. Shits and giggles aside, Mankell has got me hooked into his particular brand of literary detective story because he manages to combine the standard suspense driven narrative one might expect from that 'genre' of books that keeps you flipping to the next page desperate to know what's happened even though it's way past your bedtime and all this murder and mayhem is getting kind of creepy in the dark with just that one lamp by the bed still burning with the sort of character driven character driven-ness that the best of literary fiction has to offer. Really, Mankell is writing about the human soul but not in a cheesy liner note sort of way but in the way that daily events, whether extreme or not tend to shape our lives and in turn how the shape of our lives tends to indicate how we experience the events of our day. Complex, terse, often chilling, and never dull. Working in bookstores I always swore to stay away from the mystery genre because so much of it looks so lame but now I wonder what else is out there.

  • Blair

    My impending trip to Riga gave me the perfect pretext for reading this (though it's actually the second in the Wallander series; I haven't yet read the first). Good job I wasn't relying on it as a guide to the city, as it was written prior to Latvia's emancipation from the Soviet Union in 1991, and portrays Riga as a depressing totalitarian wasteland in which every room is bugged and you're liable to get kidnapped by the Russian mafia at any point. It certainly conjures up a very vivid image, ju

    My impending trip to Riga gave me the perfect pretext for reading this (though it's actually the second in the Wallander series; I haven't yet read the first). Good job I wasn't relying on it as a guide to the city, as it was written prior to Latvia's emancipation from the Soviet Union in 1991, and portrays Riga as a depressing totalitarian wasteland in which every room is bugged and you're liable to get kidnapped by the Russian mafia at any point. It certainly conjures up a very vivid image, just not of a place I would want to visit. I loved it as a crime novel, though - the sheer amount of detail makes it very absorbing, and the plot, though too convoluted to even outline here, is perfectly paced. I can see why the Wallander books have become near-ubiquitously popular; the character is very interesting but completely believable, with so many realistic imperfections. I'm definitely going to read more of these.

  • Lyn

    Have you ever been to Latvia?

    Me neither. Turns out Riga is the capital of this Baltic state. Back in the olden days of 1991 and thereabouts, this evil empire called the Soviet Union (once and again called Russia – home of the Rooskies) controlled a big chunk of the globe, especially the cold wintry parts.

    Including Riga, Latvia. (**I was happily showed otherwise when I first posted this review, check out the comments below and the friendly reader from sunny and warm Riga)

    Another cold and dark pla

    Have you ever been to Latvia?

    Me neither. Turns out Riga is the capital of this Baltic state. Back in the olden days of 1991 and thereabouts, this evil empire called the Soviet Union (once and again called Russia – home of the Rooskies) controlled a big chunk of the globe, especially the cold wintry parts.

    Including Riga, Latvia. (**I was happily showed otherwise when I first posted this review, check out the comments below and the friendly reader from sunny and warm Riga)

    Another cold and dark place, though with happy trees and surly and reclusive police detectives is Sweden. Henning Mankell’s second Kurt Wallander novel was better than the first, 1991’s

    , and much of the enhanced praise comes from Mankell’s use of and exploration of the dichotomy between these northern countries and at this time and place.

    The Cold War was winding down, The Scorpions were releasing a song called

    , Ronald Reagan was telling eastern folks to

    , and Hey, let's face it, there was a lot of transformations in the world.

    In Latvia, citizens would get the choice (more or less) about whether to stay in the Soviet orbit or go it alone and free. Mankell makes another interesting observation in that not all Latvians wanted Coca-Cola capitalism, were just hunky dorey with communism but were dissatisfied at how the revolution was going. Mankell also provides a good explanation for how, when the Iron Curtain fell, Russian style gangsters were more than ready to fill the void created by the end of totalitarian rule. Why? Because they were already there and in business.

    A lifeboat with two dead Russian thugs, having been tortured and shot, washes up on the shores of Sweden. Inspector Wallander and his shift of Swedish police officers investigate until a Latvian police major arrives. Later, Wallander is summoned to Riga to help the Latvian police and he gets embroiled in the changes sweeping the communist world.

    An inspired, introspective but dynamic story told with style and character.

  • Kemper

    Poor old Kurt Wallander. I just want to buy the guy a beer and tell him to quit being so hard on himself.

    The Swedish police detective isn’t faring much better in the second book of the series than he was in the first. Still lonely after his divorce and worried about his flighty daughter and elderly father, Wallander has also lost his best friend on the police force to cancer. The new breed of crime rising in the early ‘90s in Sweden continues to shock him and makes him uncertain whether he shou

    Poor old Kurt Wallander. I just want to buy the guy a beer and tell him to quit being so hard on himself.

    The Swedish police detective isn’t faring much better in the second book of the series than he was in the first. Still lonely after his divorce and worried about his flighty daughter and elderly father, Wallander has also lost his best friend on the police force to cancer. The new breed of crime rising in the early ‘90s in Sweden continues to shock him and makes him uncertain whether he should even continue being a cop.

    When a life raft with a couple of tortured and murdered bodies washes up on shore, Wallander doubts that there will be any way to solve the crime, and when the victims turn out be from Latvia, he’s all too happy to turn the case over to the Latvian detective sent to investigate. Of course, things don’t go that smoothly and Wallander ends up having to travel to Riga and finds himself wrapped up in dangerous political and police corruption as the country struggles to free itself from the last remains of Soviet communism.

    Like the first novel, Faceless Killers, the main appeal in the books is the character of Wallander. A great everyman sort of detective, who is very insecure about his professional skills and private life, Wallander seems always on the verge of just giving up in frustration. Yet he always manages to keep plodding along and working on the case at hand, and showing the kind of grim determination that others call bravery even if Wallander would scoff at the idea.

    It’s been very interesting to read these Swedish books that were written right as communism fell in Eastern Europe. It gives a lot of new perspective to what that part of the world had to deal with.

  • Michael

    I was looking forward to reading this one because it hadn't been adapted for Kenneth Branagh's Wallander TV series, which I've been a fan of. I suppose I should have wondered instead why they'd skipped it. This one starts off ok, with an intriguing mystery of suited men, dead of gunshot wounds, adrift in a dinghy. There's some interesting hangovers from Faceless Killers, not least Wallander's former confidant, the deceased detective Rydberg haunting his decision making. Mankell tries to establis

    I was looking forward to reading this one because it hadn't been adapted for Kenneth Branagh's Wallander TV series, which I've been a fan of. I suppose I should have wondered instead why they'd skipped it. This one starts off ok, with an intriguing mystery of suited men, dead of gunshot wounds, adrift in a dinghy. There's some interesting hangovers from Faceless Killers, not least Wallander's former confidant, the deceased detective Rydberg haunting his decision making. Mankell tries to establish two of the underused characters from the first book, Martinsson and Svedberg, and Wallander is having more health problems but before we can relax into the investigation he introduces a twist and Wallander ends up going solo for some extended cloak and daggering in Riga, Latvia. It's very much a book nailed into 1991, in that transitional period between the Baltic state's break with Russia and eventual adoption into the EU. Descriptively there's hardly anything beyond generic urban areas with brief statements of being in the countryside. Wallander voices Mankell's philosophical musings about national identity interspersed with dollops of canine symbolism. Let's face it Wallander isn't James Bond. In fact he's probably more in line with Michael Crawford's Condorman. I look forward to reading the next book in the series which hopefully will have Wallander, shouting at his subordinates, stuffing down cold pizza and struggling with his personal life in Sweden - where he belongs.

  • James Thane

    Swedish detective Kurt Wallander is plunged into another depressing mystery when two bodies wash ashore on the Swedish coast in a life raft. The two male victims have been shot to death and then wrapped in an embrace in the lifeboat and cast adrift. They are carrying no identification, but their dental work suggests that they are from somewhere in Eastern Europe.

    The victims are finally traced to Latvia and a police official from Riga named Major Liepa comes to Sweden to participate in the invest

    Swedish detective Kurt Wallander is plunged into another depressing mystery when two bodies wash ashore on the Swedish coast in a life raft. The two male victims have been shot to death and then wrapped in an embrace in the lifeboat and cast adrift. They are carrying no identification, but their dental work suggests that they are from somewhere in Eastern Europe.

    The victims are finally traced to Latvia and a police official from Riga named Major Liepa comes to Sweden to participate in the investigation. It seems clear that the crime did not occur on Swedish soil and so Wallander is happy to pass the case on to his Latvian counterpart and assume that his job is done.

    In fairly short order, however, complications ensue and Wallander winds up going to Latvia to assist in the continuing investigation. The story is set in the early 1990s in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Soviet Union is teetering and this has major implications for the satellite countries that have been dragged into its orbit, Latvia included.

    The tension in the country is palpable. Native Latvians hope to take advantage of the international situation to win their freedom from the Soviets, but many Soviet transplants to the country want to maintain ties to the Soviet Union. The police force itself is divided and no one knows who to trust.

    The bulk of the book, then, takes place in Latvia against the backdrop of these tensions. Wallander is basically a fish out of water, especially since he cannot speak Latvian. The case he is investigating becomes increasingly complex, and Wallander is soon at the mercy of forces beyond his control.

    Wallander continues to be a fairly dour character who is now plunged into a very depressing situation. In other words, although well-written, this is not a book likely to brighten anyone's day. The situation in Latvia is described very believably, and Mankell has clearly done a lot of research. My problem with the book is that, in the end, I could not sustain the level of disbelief required to make the story work.

    Wallander makes some decisions along the way that left me scratching my head and which were so illogical as to take me out of the story. And I found the climax to be way too implausible. This is one of those series that I read fairly infrequently. Wallander is an interesting character, but he works best for me if I visit him sparingly.

  • Semjon

    Das war der Wallander, der mir bislang am wenigsten gefallen hat. Dabei sind viele Elemente im Buch enthalten, die ich an Mankells Krimireihe schätze. So ist die Zerrissenheit des Kommissars bezüglich seines Berufs und sein Hadern mit dem Alter wieder vergleichsweise zu anderen skandinavischen Thrillern hervorragend beschrieben. Doch dieses Buch hat für mein Empfinden zu deutliche Schwächen im Kriminalfall.

    Mankell hat das Buch 1992 geschrieben, und man merkt ihm deutlich an, dass er die zu diese

    Das war der Wallander, der mir bislang am wenigsten gefallen hat. Dabei sind viele Elemente im Buch enthalten, die ich an Mankells Krimireihe schätze. So ist die Zerrissenheit des Kommissars bezüglich seines Berufs und sein Hadern mit dem Alter wieder vergleichsweise zu anderen skandinavischen Thrillern hervorragend beschrieben. Doch dieses Buch hat für mein Empfinden zu deutliche Schwächen im Kriminalfall.

    Mankell hat das Buch 1992 geschrieben, und man merkt ihm deutlich an, dass er die zu diesem Zeitpunkt herrschenden politischen Veränderungen in seinen Roman unbedingt integrieren wollte. Insofern verlegt er die Handlung größtenteils nach Lettland, welches 1991 gerade wieder unabhängig wurde. Die Stimmung im grauen Riga wird sehr gut eingefangen und wenn Mankell nicht versucht hätte, einen wahnsinnig großen Komplott in sein Werk einzubauen und den kleinen Wallander als quasi Kleinstadtkomissar zum schwedischen Geheimagenten umfunktionierte, dann wäre es ein richtig gutes Buch geworden. Wallander als Mischung von Jason Bourne und Ethan Hunt, der in das Allerheiligste der lettischen Polizei im Geheimen eindringt, um dann im Archiv in den Mülleimer zu kacken und eine kleine blaue Akte zu stehlen, die dann alles auflöst, ist einfach zu viel des Guten für mich. Wallander, bleib in Schonen in Zukunft. Think global, act local.

  • Jennie

    Kurt Wallander, Swedish detective, is inexplicably sent to Latvia to investigate the death of a Latvian police officer who was killed ...in Latvia.

    Wallander doesn't know why he's in Latvia. Henning Mankell doesn't appear to know why Wallander is in Latvia.

    don't know why Wallander is in Latvia. After 300 pages of Wallander being driven around Latvia, being cold, eating omelettes, drinking coffee, wandering around with a map, and sitting around asking himself why he's in Latvia, I don't actuall

    Kurt Wallander, Swedish detective, is inexplicably sent to Latvia to investigate the death of a Latvian police officer who was killed ...in Latvia.

    Wallander doesn't know why he's in Latvia. Henning Mankell doesn't appear to know why Wallander is in Latvia.

    don't know why Wallander is in Latvia. After 300 pages of Wallander being driven around Latvia, being cold, eating omelettes, drinking coffee, wandering around with a map, and sitting around asking himself why he's in Latvia, I don't actually care. The subplot of shadowy...whatever they were...freedom fighters...? made no sense whatsoever (seriously, he's investigating the death of a police officer and he voluntarily lets himself be taken around by guys who throw hoods over his head? To hang out with people with whom he can barely communicate in bad English? Who

    that?), and the other subplot with the love interest was ridiculous. Wallander is 40-ish, not 14.

    I should have paid attention to my instinct to drop this in the discard pile, but I was determined to ride it out. I'm going to pay attention to my instincts from now on.

  • Jan-Maat

    Once upon a time I heard tell of a poet who always travelled with the same three books: the Bible, Don Quixote and Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. It was probably a symbolist poet now that I come to think of it

    . Although I approve of travelling with a book or two - I'll admit to being a bigamist reader - as a rule I prefer a little more variety even if this does require prolonged dithering in

    Once upon a time I heard tell of a poet who always travelled with the same three books: the Bible, Don Quixote and Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. It was probably a symbolist poet now that I come to think of it

    . Although I approve of travelling with a book or two - I'll admit to being a bigamist reader - as a rule I prefer a little more variety even if this does require prolonged dithering in front of the book shelves. Sometimes though I entrust myself to fate, or more accurately, the glory and the grandeur of the airport or station station book seller. And this led me to pick up

    .

    A couple of snarling dogs on the cover, the author had a familiar name, looked as though it would fit in a coat pocket - what more could I want?

    Sadly it turned out that I wanted a great deal more.

    I see a lot of people have liked this book a lot. Perhaps they are all crazy. As a hypothesis this seems just a little sweeping, so maybe it's me. I had the same problem with this as with

    . I enjoy the characters and the settings, but with the second or more murders the story loses it's credibility for me. In this case I was also unconvinced by Wallander's ability to smuggle himself back into Latvia and the final denouement.

    I suppose I buy into the gritty realism of the detective novel and simplistically take this to mean that it will be realistic. Perhaps you've read

    , perhaps you read the papers or follow the news and know that most murder cases are not at all like the stories in Detective fiction, but still perhaps you are still able to enjoy such stories. I can't. They just stick in my throat after the second murder. I read about the second murder and I remember the man who tried to murder his parents by driving them into a canal. British canals on the whole aren't that deep and are typically full of sludge. So the man got out of the car and stood on the roof to get it to sink faster. Passers-by gathered on the tow paths and shouted at him until he got down and let his parents out of the car. Later he drove round to their home and killed them with a

    The problem with this kind of stupidity is that it doesn't make for long novels. However it is real and brutal. Crime novels on the other hand generally seem too clever to be plausible. If I was reading a book about city bankers in the middle of which a dragon crashed into Bishopsgate I'd put it down to the culture of dugs and drinking among raider-traders. But intricate plotting in a murder story? Nah. Can you get suspension of disbelief transfusions yet?

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