LONGLISTED FOR THE CWA INTERNATIONAL DAGGER 2018
The final novel from the bestselling author of the Inspector Wallander mysteries
Fredrik Welin is a seventy-year-old retired doctor. Years ago he retreated to the Swedish archipelago, where he lives alone on an island. He swims in the sea every day, cutting a hole in the ice if necessary. He lives a quiet life. Until he wakes up one night to find his house on fire.
Fredrik escapes just in time, wearing two left-footed wellies, as neighbouring islanders arrive to help douse the flames. All that remains in the morning is a stinking ruin and evidence of arson. The house that has been in his family for generations and all his worldly belongings are gone. He cannot think who would do such a thing, or why. Without a suspect, the police begin to think he started the fire himself.
On a rocky, remote private island in a Swedish archipelago, 70-year-old Fredrik Welin wakes to a searing light. He stumbles outside, recovering only a raincoat and two left boots on the way, and watches helplessly as his house burns to its foundations. This final novel from Mankell (the Kurt Wallander series), posthumously published in a stunning English translation, questions what happens to a person who has lost everything and who considers himself too old to rebuild. Fredrik hardly has time to grieve the memories that burned along with the house's contents; when investigators arrive to inspect the smoking ruins, they discover clear signs of arson. Could it be insurance fraud? Or does the responsibility lie with one of Fredrik's neighbors, whom he's known for years and who showed up in their boats to battle the flames? And how will Fredrik's daughter pregnant and harboring secrets of her own react to the loss of her inheritance? Mankell's understated yet thrilling use of language brings both the rugged scenery and Fredrik's deep-rooted loneliness to life. It's a skillfully told, exquisitely structured story filled with sharp insights into human nature and unflinching examinations of the complex relationships to which people bind themselves in order to feel a little bit less alone.