The acclaimed author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries, writing at the height of his powers, now gives us an electrifying stand-alone global thriller. January 2006. In the Swedish hamlet of Hesjovallen, nineteen people have been massacred. The only clue is a red ribbon found at the scene. Judge Birgitta Roslin has particular reason to be shocked: Her grandparents, the Andrens, are among the victims, and Birgitta soon learns that an Andren family in Nevada has also been murdered. She then discovers the nineteenth-century diary of an Andren ancestor--a gang master on the American transcontinental railway--that describes brutal treatment of Chinese slave workers. The police insist that only a lunatic could have committed the Hesjovallen murders, but Birgitta is determined to uncover what she now suspects is a more complicated truth. The investigation leads to the highest echelons of power in present-day Beijing, and to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. But the narrative also takes us back 150 years into the depths of the slave trade between China and the United States--a history that will ensnare Birgitta as she draws ever closer to solving the Hesjovallen murders.