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Amber's Thoughts

Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series



A Good Man in a Dark World

The Dogs of Riga - Henning Mankell, Laurie Thompson

Masterful in plot, pace, characters and setting, this is a serious and multi-layered mystery, a study of how some people rise to greatness in danger and under oppression. Inspector Kurt Wallander is a humble hero, given more to mid-life-crisis existential angst than machismo. He’s smart, though, and far more courageous and resourceful than he gives himself credit for.


Set in 1990 as the Soviet Union was falling apart, The Dogs of Riga portrays life under the waning but still powerful totalitarian regime in Latvia, especially the lives of the resistance group Wallander encounters. The action is seldom violent, and yet it’s intense and suspenseful. When there is violence, it’s used effectively, not gratuitously, and the compassionate and sensitive Wallander is haunted by it.


There’s a kind of life-or-death game quality to the adventure and chase in the plot. In the early 90s, the need to communicate secretly required face-to face meetings in secret places, and a search for hidden documents meant getting past guards, not passwords. Reading this book was a reminder of the bravery and determination of people who resisted and helped bring down repressive powers back then, and what life must be like for those struggling against corrupt and unjust governments today.