A theme of this mystery novel is how crime affects the lives of innocent people. Manuel Alavez’s two younger brothers were lured from rural Oaxaca with the promise of money made by a fat man and a tall thin man from Sweden. Manuel turned down the offer and continued his hard labor on the family farm. His brother Angel was killed in Germany, and Patricio was arrested at the Swedish border carrying drugs he thought were important letters. Now, Manuel has traveled to Sweden to visit Patricio in prison and collect the money that was promised to him even if he failed.
Slobadan Andersson is the fat man, the owner of a restaurant named Dakar in Uppsala. He and his partner Armas, the tall man, also import and sell drugs. But Armas soon goes missing.
Eva Willman is the single mother of two teenage sons. She has been unemployed for a long time, ever since the post office laid her off, but she has heard that there is a waitress position open at Dakar. Shortly after she starts work, feeling a new sense of self-worth, she learns her oldest son Patrik was reported at the scene of the stabbing of a local drug dealer.
Johnny Kvarnheder is a chef who has just left his old life behind to start work at Dakar.
These characters and others are affected by the activities of the drug smugglers and sellers who are trying to open up the drug market in Uppsala. Ann Lindell and a host of her colleagues from several agencies end up trying to find out who murdered Armas, who stabbed the drug seller, and who is responsible for selling drugs to teenagers. At the same time, Ann still misses her ex-lover Edvard and tries to cope with the serious illness of her mentor.
This novel is more of an interesting police procedural than a mystery, since readers know who murdered Armas but don’t understand how all the pieces fit together. The fates of the Mexican men were especially compelling. One caveat is that there were far too many police officers to keep track of, which may be realistic but somewhat impedes the story.