Jonathan's Reviews > The Dogs of Riga

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell
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Sep 15, 11

bookshelves: fiction, mystery
Read from August 31 to September 11, 2011

In this, the second book of the Kurt Wallander series, the detective in the small Swedish town of Ystad, gets called in when an inflatable life raft with 2 dead bodies is discovered on an empty winter beach. The deaths are connected with the social and political upheaval in Latvia during the early 1990s. When a Lat avian police detective, who came over to Sweden to help out, is murdered upon his return to Latvia, Wallander is called to Latvia to help out. There, he becomes embroiled in the tense times, as well as gets involved with the detective's widow. A rooftop shootout neatly wraps everything up.

I have to say this series in general, and this book in particular, have been disappointments. I've found Wallander to be annoying. I know our mystery "heroes" are supposed to have faults, probably plenty of them. But Wallander crosses the line to whiny. He reacts in very strange ways to things and in general just isn't that interesting a character.

The books themselves (this is my second) just plod along. They are marred by too much (boring, IMHO) detail. I know writers are supposed to insert little bits of things that happen to add verisimilitude, but Mankell goes way way too far. Like when he drives to Riga, he describes stopping for gas. Okay, but then he has to stretch it out further by saying he didn't have enough cash to pay for it and had to borrow the rest from his passenger. Who cares? There's just tons of this sort of needless detail that go ever further towards bogging down and already pretty slow moving book.

I also didn't like the translation very much. There were jarring bits of idiom that just didn't fit. But the most annoying word was "testimony". The Latvian detective was gathering clues and most of the book was an attempt to figure out where he had stashed them. But the translation called this his "testimony", so Wallander was on a quest for his "testimony". Ugh, what a weird and almost archaic use of the word.

And most of the nearly nonexistent "action" scenes were just plain unbelievable. Shootouts where he is the lone survivor. Last minute rescues. Ugh, it just was too much. And then, after all that, the very first mystery of the book - "why were the men assassinated, had their jackets put on, put in a life raft and sent to sea?" - is never answered sufficiently! And what little explanation that happened was merely one character telling Wallander what happened, without any supporting evidence!

So I think I'll just stop right here. Despite Branagh's excellent portrayal, I think this is another Swedish mystery series that leaves me cold.
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Reading Progress

08/31/2011 "Finally remembered to copy this to my phone. Now I can listen to it driving to Maine."
09/06/2011
50.0% "Liking it better than first Wallander. Still a little too redundant at times."
09/11/2011 page 90
100% "Really really slow going"

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne You need to tell me about if you don't really like a book! Do you think I would like it? Even though it sounds like an adult book, I love annoying characters!


Jonathan Adrienne wrote: "You need to tell me about if you don't really like a book! Do you think I would like it? Even though it sounds like an adult book, I love annoying characters!"

I don't think you'd lke it either. Too slow!


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