One frozen January Morning at 5 am, Inspector Wallander responds to what he expects is a routine call out. When he reaches the isolated farmhouse he discovers a bloodbath. An old man has been tortured and beaten to death, his wife lies barely alive beside his shattered body, victims of violence beyond reason. The woman supplies Wallander with his only clue: the perpetrators may have been foreign. When this is leaked to the press, racial hatred is unleashed. Kurt Wallander is a senior police officer at Ystad, a small town in the wind-lashed Swedish province of Skane. His life is a shambles. His wife has left him, his daughter refuses to speak to him, even his ageing father barely tolerates him. He works tirelessly, eats badly and drinks the nights away in a lonely, neglected flat. But now winter closes its grip on Ystad, and Wallander, his tenacious efforts closely monitored by the tough minded (and disarmingly attractive) district attorney Anette Brolin, must forget his trouble, and throw himself into a battle against time and xenophobia.