A woman is reported as missing. While inspector Wallander and his team search for this woman, a remote house explodes, and parts of a South African gun and a black finger are found at the scene. Wallander thinks the case of the missing woman and the explosion are somehow related, but is groping in the dark, unaware that he stumbled upon a conspiracy to assassinate Nelson Mandela...
The White Lioness is well written, but I found some of the behavior of the main character – Kurt Wallander – too unrealistic. Unusual is that the main character is only involved in the part that's set in Sweden, in the South African part he is absent. And so it feels like two loosely connected books in one: each with its own characters and its own story.
Quotes from the book
"The picture I'm getting of her is so perfect, I start getting suspicious. Do such utterly good people exist?"
"I can't find any links. All I know is I'm looking for a missing woman, and all the time I keep coming across the damnedest things. A severed finger, parts of a radio transmitter, unusual weapons."
Hanson had a brother called Jan-Olof. He was Hanson's big misfortune in life.
He thought of Louise Akerblom's daughters. And of Robert Akerblom. He wondered how they would be able to keep on believing in a good, all-powerful God when their mother and wife had been murdered and dropped into a well.
The police had reason to be grateful that he had set out that morning to steal old water pumps. If he hadn't, it might have been a long time before they found Louise Akerblom.
There was nothing he found more difficult than telling relatives that someone in their family had died. There was no real difference whether the death was caused by an accident, a suicide or a violent crime. No matter how hard he tried to express himself carefully and considerately, his words were cruelty itself.
"How the hell do you describe a fat guy? He was balding, red-faced, fat. And when I say fat, I do mean fat! He was like a barrel."
His biggest asset was his ruthlessness. As far as he was concerned, there was no difference between shooting a black and killing a rat.
"My superiors would put a price on my head if anything went wrong."
"If he lets us down, he will know he can look forward to a slow and painful death, so awful he'd wish he'd never been born."
"What did she want?" Konovalenko shrugged and replied as he closed the dead woman's eyes with his foot. Mud from the sole of his shoe stuck to her face. "She asked for directions", he said. "She must have taken a wrong turning."
"No matter how well organised you are, the unexpected is always liable to happen. But that's precisely why such detailed planning is necessary. If you are well organised, you can improvise. If not, the unexpected intervention is liable to cause confusion."
What he read confirmed his impression that South Africa would be a suitable place to build a future for himself. He was attracted by the racial discrimination [...]. He disliked coloured people, especially blacks. As far as he was concerned, they were inferior beings, unpredictable, usually criminal. Whether such views constituted prejudice, he had no idea. He just decided that was the way things were. But he liked the thought of having domestic servants and gardeners.
Unlike Tania, who was so slim, Rykoff looked as if he'd been given an order to get fat – an order he had been delighted to obey.
"I know my father will soon be here", she said. "Since you won't let me hate him while he's here, I do it while I'm waiting."
First I get burgled. Then they blow up my flat. What next?
The policeman who visited them in Hallunda had killed her husband. Konovalenko had described his death in a way that bore little resemblance to what had happened. As far as Tania was concerned, Wallander was a monster of uncontrolled, sadistic brutality.
He took the role of sacrificial lamb. He doubted whether Konovalenko could be arrested without officers being injured or killed. Therefore he would sacrifice himself. The thought terrified him, but he could not run away. He had to achieve what he had set out to do, regardless of the consequences.
"I've told them what I found in your pockets whenever you were sleeping here. I listened to what you said in your sleep, and I wrote it down. Maybe it was insignificant, but I hope it ruins you."
Killing a human being, he thought. However much you hate somebody, no matter how desperate you were, there will be a wound in your soul that will never heal.
"Send my regards to Peter Hanson, and thank him." - "He's a thief", Svedberg said. "You don't thanks creeps like that."