I read almost all of Mankell's books and I generally enjoyed them. This book was a disappointment. First of all, the development of the story is too slow. It moves from Hudiksvall in Northern Sweden, where a terrible mass murder has taken place to 19th century China and the United States and then to China, Africa and Sweden again. The connections between the world political developments and the murder in Hudiksvall are rather artificial constructions that seem to have one purpose: convince the reader of the political views of the author. The 'bad guys' in this story are the new capitalist Chinese, the 'good guys' are old Maoists and the poor population of Africa. So, the terrible murder in Hudiksvall is linked to world capitalism in its new, Chinese form. The main character, the Swedish judge who starts her own crime investigation, embodies the inner conflicts of progressive Swedes: she was a Maoist as a student and is a moderate social democrat now. The story, though highly artificial, is exciting at times, but Mankell's description of the context does not convince. Not only does he make many mistakes when he writes about China - such as using Chinese names that are grammatically impossible -, he also gives such a stereotypical image of Chinese society that his story loses credibility. Through his main characters he projects a positive image of Maoism that is really unacceptable in the light of what we know. Moreover, the attention he gives to ideological debate goes at the expense of the speed of the story, which is really so simple that a book of 150 pages would have sufficed. Please, mr. Mankell, write your next book about a murder in a little Swedish town again, an environment in which you feel more at home.