In The Dogs of Riga, Mankell sets out to explore the explosive political situation of the former Soviet Republic Latvia in the beginning 1990s.
Still, the political scales are in full swerve and political power has to be distributed among Communist hardliners versus advocates of Latvian independence from Moscow.
Inspector Wallander comes into the play investigating a seemingly unimportant murder of two Baltic citizens who have drifted towards the Swedish coast in a boat. He is helped by the Riga Police Major Karlis Liepa, a chain smoker whom Wallander comes to like.
Soon after Liepas short visit to Ystad has come to an end, Wallander is informed about the murder of his colleague in Riga. Liepa's wife, unknown to Wallander, implores him to cast light on the case.
Wallander travels to Riga and is soon drawn into the both diffuse as well as confusing political situation of Latvia. It is getting ever clearer that Liepas death is linked to the fact that he did not wish to cover up corruption of the Latvia police corps and thus had to be sacrificed.
Wallander's task is supremely aggravated by the fact that his knight moves have to be executed in darkness for the official police hierarchy must not know of his plans. Wallander, again, commits dreadful errors which on several occasions nearly kill him off; but there is something to stay alive for...the energetic widow of Major Liepa, Baiba by name.
Again, as in the case of The White Lioness, Mankell focuses societal actors and the social and political situation of a newly liberated country which has to find political peace.
To my mind, a good piece of work, carefully researched!