Wallander’s daughter, Linda, announces she is pregnant but not yet married to the father of her child. She is moving in with him and Wallander is invited to meet the boyfriend’s parents. He is extremely anxious about the meeting and yet the dinner is a success with he and the other father getting along very well and having many things to talk about. The man is career military and finds police work just as fascinating. Soon after this dinner Wallander is invited to a party hosted by the couple which again Wallander attends. At one point he is invited into the study of the host and has a pretty extraordinary conversation about the military, the Cold War and espionage involving the Swedish government and the United States and Russia. Wallander notices the man is a little jumpy and seems to be looking over his shoulder a lot.
Meanwhile Wallander is beginning to confront his own age and mortality. His ex-wife Mona, Linda’s mother, re-enters his life in a weird way and tells him one story and Linda another. She is drinking way too much and is not looking good at all. Mona tells Linda that Wallander had kicked her out of his house when he did no such thing, when Wallander is trying to work out how they can grandparent together after years of being estranged. What is worrying him is that he is starting to have lapses in his memory. His father had Alzheimer’s disease and that is one of the things that worries him the most. He can take just about anything except that and yet that is what he is having to face.
The book title suggests that he may be the troubled man but the father of Linda’s boyfriend exhibits extreme signs of worry on the days before he disappears and Linda and her boyfriend’s mother ask Wallander to help look into his disappearance even though it is nowhere near his jurisdiction. This does open a whole proverbial can of worms. Will Linda and her boyfriend blame Wallander for not getting to the bottom fast enough? Will he actually figure out where the man went? Linda said her father-in-law followed a very strict routine day in and day out which made his vanishing make even less sense. His wife seemed to be holding it together but also remote in her responses.
Then the plot gets even thicker when she, the wife, not only disappears but also turns up dead a few days later. Linda and her boyfriend are in complete shock and Wallander takes on the case in a much more serious way. He digs and digs until he does get answers which are not necessarily what the family and friends want to hear. For Wallander’s possibly last story this was a little bizarre.