I started reading The White Lioness while on holiday in Edinburgh & I was initially a bit worried about reading this one after The Dogs of Riga (which to be honest, I hated), as this is another one where Mankell takes the book outside of Sweden. In my opinion that is a big part of what ruined The Dogs of Riga, so I was worried that would ruin this one as well. I needn’t have worried!
From the back of the book: “In peaceful southern Sweden Louise Akerblom, an estate agent, pillar of the Methodist Church, wife and mother, disappears. There is no explaination and no motive. Inspector Wallander and his team are called in to investigate.
As Inspector Wallander is introduced to the missing persons case he has a gut feeling that the victim will never be found alive, but he has no idea how far he will have to goin search of the killer. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela has made his long walk to freedom, setting in train the country’s painful towards the end of Apartheid. Wallander and his colleagues find themselves caught up in a complex web involving renegade members of South Africa’s secret service and a former KGB agent, all of whom are set upon halting Mandela’s rise to power. Faced with a world in which terrorism knows no frontiers, Wallander must prevent a hideous crime that means to dam the tide of history.”
The book beings with Kurt investigating the disappearance of a local business woman & mother of 2, Louise Akerblom. Kurt senses from the minute her husband reports her missing that there is something terribly wrong with this case & he couldn’t be more correct. Shortly we are taken to South Africa, where we are introduced to Jan Kleyn & Colonel Frans Malan, Afrikaaners who are bent on making sure that Apartheid never ends & using all means possible.The two, along with a secret “association” hatch a plan that will ensure utter chaos in South Africa & ensure that white rule remains for centuries to come. Wallander & his team are soon dragged into something much larger than they ever dreamed, or are even really capable of handling, much to Wallander’s detriment.
I loved this book because it really showed off the fallible side of Wallander & even though we are only in book 3, we are now beginning to see the Wallander that I know so well from the Wallander movies with Krister Henriksson. Wallander makes some terrible decisions in this book & has to deal with the consequences, which affect more than him. This book, to me, is the making of Wallander, it is what makes him what he becomes in the later books & what he is portrayed as in the Yellowbird films.
I have read some pretty bad reviews of The White Lioness & while I do not necessarily agree with them, I do understand where they are coming from. Wallander is a bit of an acquired taste – I think you either love Mankell’s style of writing & Wallander by extension, or you can’t stand it & find the books a chore. Luckily, I love them & they, in my humble opinion, are only getting better & better! My only regret is that I do not read Swedish, as I would love to read the originals, instead of the translations!