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Faceless Killers (Kurt Wallander #1)

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  46,288 Ratings  ·  2,479 Reviews
One frozen January morning at 5am, Inspector Wallander responds to what he believes 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, both victims of a violence beyond reason. The woman supplies Wallander with his only clue: the perp ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published January 14th 2003 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1991)
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Jan 18, 2011 Kemper rated it really liked it
During one of my periodic efforts to prove to myself that I'm not one of The Great Unwashed, I watched PBS's Masterpiece Mystery series featuring the Swedish detective Kurt Wallander as played by Kenneth Branagh. (Yes, it had English actors playing Swedes and was filmed in Sweden. Just go with it.) I liked it quite a bit and since I also loved the The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I decided to read some more about these murderous Swedes. And now I'm really hooked.

Written in 1990, this book introd
Dan Schwent
An elderly couple is robbed and brutally murdered and it's up to police inspector Kurt Wallander to find the killer or killers. Can Kurt act on the meager information he has available and solve the case as his private life disintegrates around him?

On the heels of reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire, I decided to branch out and try a couple more Swedish crime authors. Faceless Killers is the first such book to fall into my hands.

Faceless Killers isn't a happy
Peter Fogtdal
Oct 31, 2008 Peter Fogtdal rated it it was ok
Henning Mankell might be the most famous Scandinavian writer of crime novels in the US. May I humbly ask why? I can think of at least three Swedes and two Danes who are far, far superior. And let's not forget the Norwegians. Read Frederik Skagen for Christ's sake. I'm not sure he's been translated but he's brillant when it comes to the twisted mind of killers and rapists.

Actually, I don't like being hard on writer colleagues, but this book is simply not very good. The prose is flat, only two of
Tea Jovanović
May 10, 2013 Tea Jovanović rated it really liked it
Sjajan švedski autor, najpre ga je objavljivala Narodna knjiga a sada Čarobna knjiga... Da ne govorimo o Kenetu Brani koji je presonalizovao britansku verziju serijala o inspektoru Valanderu... :) Za ljubitelje dobrih krimića... I da malo upoznate i Švedsku... :)
Lynne King
There's something about Swedish authors that both fascinates me and tugs at my heartstrings. Henning Mankell does indeed do that for me with his Inspector Kurt Wallander.

The air of suspense begins with the words:

“He has forgotten something, he knows that for sure when he wakes up. Something he dreamt during the night. Something he ought to remember. He tries to remember. But sleep is like a black hole. A well that reveals nothing of its contents.”

And this same suspense kept me utterly enthralled
Sep 29, 2009 notgettingenough rated it did not like it
Shelves: crime-fiction

Maybe this book is dreadfully translated...or maybe it's like Ikea furniture. Mostly you end up with a bunch of bits that don't make sense. It's a popular theory in Australia that Ikea furniture is some sort of revenge upon people who live in sunlight. Maybe Henning Mankell is a plot to get the people who escaped the Ikea trap.

We all over here prefer more Abba and less bad furniture and miserable books please.
Nov 17, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it
Dark, brooding and earthy – like a good Swedish crime mystery should be.

Writer Henning Mankell first published Faceless Killers in 1991 and an English edition, translated by Steven T. Murray, was published in 1997. Besides being a good book, this is notable as Mankell’s introduction of his famous detective Kurt Wallander.

Set in the small city of Ystad, in the southern most tip of Sweden, and farther removed from larger cities like Malmo or Stockholm, Mankell has given this mystery a sort of smal
K.D. Absolutely
May 30, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
One of those books that I thought I would not like but ended up really liking.

I am not really a big fan of mystery whodunnit books but this one really hooked me from start to finish. The plot is not really focused on who the killer is but on the main protagonist and his life: aging, just divorced, daughter's not communicating to him, father's getting senile, getting fat, postponing his diet, drinking and driving and all of the other matters that make him human and vulnerable. Of course, you'd l
Jul 17, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although familiar with Swedish detective Kurt Wallender from the popular BBC series, this is the first of Henning Mankell's books that I have read. And what an excellent read it was. Mankell writes in a very spare, no-frills way to tell a story that is clear and absorbing.
Wallender is a man whose life is in a mess; his wife has left him, his daughter is estranged, his father is becoming senile and Wallender himself is lonely, drinking to much and eating badly. However he is always focused on th
Aug 30, 2010 g rated it it was ok
Do these get better? I flew through this first in the Kurt Wallander series, but the writing was squarely in the spectrum of unremarkable to outright you've-got-to-be-kidding-me. The police officers are barely differentiated (Wallander himself is the only one with any character traits to speak of, and he comes across as kind of a schmuck), and the book cries out for description and emotion. Not really psychological and only half-heartedly political, this novel strikes me as gratuitous and forget ...more
Ben Loory
Jan 19, 2011 Ben Loory rated it it was ok
it was 15 pages before the end before anyone in the police department thought to follow the most obvious trail. i mean i'm not even trying to solve the case, i'm just lying in bed sick, idly flipping 250 pages, but i'm ahead of these people? pretty sad. in the meantime there's no suspense, the characters are dull, and the scenes are boring and poorly written. nice title, though, i suppose... can't imagine reading more of these...
“To grow old is to live in fear. The dread of something menacing that you felt when you were a child returns when you get old.”
The first episode of a sitcom is usually a bit clunky. The joke to exposition ratio is low, and you’ve got all these new people to meet. While Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series is by no stretch of the imagination a “situational comedy,” I tried to give its first volume the same benefit of the doubt.

When our depressed, middle-aged police detective/protagoni
James Thane
Apr 03, 2011 James Thane rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
This is the first entry in Henning Mankell's series featuring Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. When we first meet him, Wallander has a boatload of personal problems: he is recently divorced; he's estranged from his daughter; he's drinking too much; he has a lousy diet, and his father is showing signs of senility.

Against the backdrop of this troubled personal life, Wallandar is assigned to lead the investigation of the savage murder or an elderly farm couple. There is no apparent motive and ther
Feb 24, 2012 AC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
I ran across a reference to Mankell from someone on GR who said that crime-writing afficionados really like him.... but then, when I read some of the other GR reviews, I nearly tossed this one in the bucket. I'm glad I didn't! This is a first-rate -- a REALLY first-rate piece of genre writing.

It's 4.5 stars (maybe 4.75) -- and that because I'm getting more conservative in my old age... but its 4.5 from the five-side, not from the 4+ side...

Wallander is a tough, realistic, angst-ridden policeman
Sep 09, 2010 Brad rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, swedish-lit
I remember a discussion I had years ago with a friend of mine about Jonathon Demme's film version of The Silence of the Lambs. We were both annoyed by the pacing of the film and joked that it was really the story of an FBI agent driving her car, with some dialogue thrown in to liven things up.

I felt a bit that way reading Faceless Killers, the first Wallander book by Henning Mankell. I don't know if it was only this first Wallander mystery (it's the first I've read too) or if it is a common them
Aug 11, 2013 Harry rated it really liked it
Book Review

Faceless Killers, a 1991 novel and the first in the Kurt Wallander series, delves right into Mankell's favorite pet peeve: the changing political and social landscape of Sweden and in particular the influx of immigration and asylum seekers allowed into Sweden seemingly without barriers.

The plot arises like a Phoenix from this backdrop of which Mankell is a crucial source both personally and professionally as enlightening the world to such problems. It is no mistake that it is a Somali
Jul 30, 2014 Eve rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2014
An avid fan of police procedural books and television shows, it was not shocking that I fell in love with BBC's Wallander series, starring Kenneth Branagh. Like the Inspector Lynley series, the hauntingly peaceful country settings play as key a role as do the main characters.

In a lonely Swedish farming community, an elderly couple are bludgeoned to death in their home early one January morning. Wallander, acting as temporary head of the department while his superior is on vacation, is thoroughl
FACELESS KILLERS (Swedish Police Procedural)- G+
Henning Mankell – 1st in series
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard. English Translation, 2003 – Trade Paperback
Police Inspector Kurt Wallander is called to the scene of a particularly violent attack of an elderly couple on a small farm. The husband is dead but the wife, found with a noose around her neck, utters the work “foreign” before dying. Wallander becomes obsessed with solving the case before feelings against Sweden’s immigrants becomes violent.
*** A
Apr 03, 2011 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My initial reaction to this book “Faceless Killers” was “Poor Kurt Wallander”!
Our introduction to the character of Inspector Wallander by Henning Mankell, was certainly unusual . As the hero of many detective novels after this story, he cuts a sorry figure - and yet, a realistic one. At the beginning of the novel, we quickly discover that Wallander’s marriage has finished, his daughter doesn’t want to have much to do with him and his father doesn’t appear to like him much either! However, despi
Feb 19, 2014 Gearóid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book.
Wallender is a really great character.
He is a flawed character,makes lots of mistakes.
He sticks at things though and finally gets there.
Really interesting to read as well as the crime story
you get involved in Wallenders personal life and he
comes across as a normal human being who just happens
to be a detective.
Very good and will read the rest of the series.
Sep 20, 2016 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found I really had to be in the right mood to appreciate this book. It's as much a character study of Inspector Wallander as it is a story about two mysteries. The mood is a bit depressing. The pace is pretty slow, but picks up in the last third of the book. Wallander is more realistically portrayed, as he sometimes makes mistakes and he solves crimes by alot of methodical hard work and a bit of luck. A good book, but not for someone looking for a thriller.
Aug 31, 2014 TL rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of crime fiction
Recommended to TL by: Got if after I saw the BBC series, I think... not sure
Shelves: re-reading, favorites
2014 re-read:

It was good re-visiting these people again :) (Will have to watch the BBC SERIES again when I'm off, maybe marathon it).

Tried to read slowly to savor it but got caught up in the story again and charged through so to speak :).

If your a fan of fast paced crime novels, this may not be for you. There's periods in the narrative where not much happens and its just Kurt reflecting on his personal life and him/his colleagues going over clues.
This is a methodical sort of novel, takes its t
Mar 14, 2009 Tony rated it it was amazing
Mankell, Henning. FACELESS KILLERS. (1991). *****. An old farm couple living on the outskirts of Ystad are discovered in their house by their neighbors. The old man is dead – savagely beaten to death. His wife, also beaten, and with a noose around her neck, is close to death. When Kurt Wallander and his crew arrive they are appalled at the violence and bloodshed. The woman is rushed to the hospital, but cannot be safed. Just before she dies, she whispers the word “foreigner” over and over. Since ...more
Aug 22, 2016 Melodie rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime-fiction
A brutal murder of an elderly farmer and his wife has the authorities baffled. As the threads unravel, the case moves farther away from a solution and an arrest. And as a result, there is unrest having to do with the States immigration policy.
Such is the bare bones of the plot. Kurt Wallander is the cop in charge. Not just of the case, but the local precinct as he fills in for the vacationing chief. And he is ill-equipped as his personal struggles frequently overwhelm him.
While I didn't care
Dec 28, 2009 Jim rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of Henning Mankell before I purchased this book over a year ago. It sounded exotic, and I have a thing for exotic mysteries. Faceless Killers is the first of the Kurt Wallander novels, named after a detective in Ystad in the South of Sweden.

From the moment Wallander hears about the brutal murder of an old farmer and his wife, Mankell's story builds up speed as we see the entire police force involved. When the news that the murdered farmer's wife's last word was "foreigner" is l
Tinha todos os ingredientes para ser um bom policial... mas não consegui gostar! Não consegui ligar-me a nenhuma das personagens, não gostei do desenvolvimento da história e não consegui gostar da escrita! Ou se calhar é só da tradução... ou se calhar comecei pelo livro errado!... :(

"Comeu um hamburguer com guarnição. Comeu-o tão depressa que ficou com diarreia. Quando estava na sanita reparou que devia mudar de cuecas..." - pág. 34. Não havia nexexidade!

Ainda não é desta que fico fã da literatu
Oct 20, 2015 Gavin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-mystery, novels
The first in the Wallander series, it's a short book, but in the best's edited down to only what needs to be there. Written very well, able to bring you into the story and the character of Kurt Wallander, a flawed, but good man, detective in Sweden. My last book was Dance with Dragons, so this was the polar opposite...story only, essential elements, but never felt like it was lacking a thing.

I'm looking forward to reading the next one, and I also see that Kenneth Brannagh Wallander TV s
Oct 06, 2015 Owlseyes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: swedish-lit

“…the only thing I was afraid of was getting old and turning around and seeing that I had botched my life. But I’m happy with the life that has been”.

This past summer I've read three books of Mankell; this being the latest I've read;--- and then this:

Sad; let's preserve the memory of the master of the Scandinavian noir.

Wallander lives on.
Lewis Weinstein
Oct 18, 2012 Lewis Weinstein rated it liked it
This is my first Mankell. I thoroughly enjoyed the tension and the investigation details and frustration. The unfamiliar (to me) setting and political environment added to the interest.

Then I think it drifted away at the end. The resolution did not rise to the level of what came before. However, it was certainly good enough to add the next Wallander adventure to my list.
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Henning Mankell was an internationally known Swedish crime writer, children's author and playwright. He was best known for his literary character Kurt Wallander.

Mankell split his time between Sweden and Mozambique. He was married to Eva Bergman, Swedish director and daughter of Ingmar Bergman.
More about Henning Mankell...

Other Books in the Series

Kurt Wallander (10 books)
  • The Dogs of Riga (Kurt Wallander, #2)
  • The White Lioness (Kurt Wallander, #3)
  • The Man Who Smiled (Kurt Wallander, #4)
  • Sidetracked (Kurt Wallander, #5)
  • The Fifth Woman (Kurt Wallander, #6)
  • One Step Behind (Kurt Wallander, #7)
  • Firewall (Wallander, #8)
  • The Pyramid: And Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries (Kurt Wallander, #9)
  • The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander, #10)

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“Every time Wallander stepped into someone's home, he felt as though he were looking at the front cover of a book that he had just bought” 10 likes
“Justice doesn't only mean that the people who commit crime are punished. It also means that we can never give up seeking the truth.” 8 likes
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