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hree youngsters are shot dead whilst having a woodland picnic in fancy dress. One girl's mother reports her as missing but postcards from Paris supposedly sent by the daughter negate any police involvement. Then another parent reports that Wallander's troubled colleague, Svedberg, had earlier expressed an interest in the kids' movements, and then Svedberg is also found shot, photos of the dead trio being found in his flat along with one of a mystery woman, identified by Svedberg's cousin as his ex-girlfriend Louise. The corpses are found, and a friend of the victims is also slain, having told Wallander that his workmate was really gay, and that 'Louise' is a transvestite, and a wholly murderous one, who adds to his toll of dead by killing a further trio of innocents. Diagnosed as diabetic and aware that he never truly knew the dead colleague who regarded him as his best friend, Wallander must not only avenge Svedberg but halt a psychopath from an ordinary but obvious walk of life from striking far closer to home.

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