Dan Schwent's Reviews > Faceless Killers

Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell
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Feb 29, 2012

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bookshelves: crime-and-mystery, 2012
Read from March 12 to 16, 2012

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 book, much as its title indicates. It's bleaker than a visit to an insurance office, mostly due to poor Kurt Wallander and his life.

The mystery is an intriguing one and delves into the secret life of one of the victims. The mystery is not of the solveable variety but that's ultimately not that important. My main attractions to Faceless Killers were the glimpse into Swedish society and Kurt Wallander himself.

The fact that one of Wallander's clues is that the killer is a foreigner thrusts the reader into a world of refugees, racism, and red tape. There are false leads and I have to admit I wasn't sure what was going on in the investigation part of the time.

And that brings us to Kurt Wallander himself. He's no super-hero unless lonliness and not having anything go right in his personal life is a super power. He's getting older and fatter, his wife left him, his daughter is a stranger, his relationship with his father is strained, and all he has is his job. Instead of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, what I was primarily reminded of when I read this was John Lutz's Alo Nudger series starring a similarly sad character.

Faceless Killers is a good police procedural story. It's pretty bleak and moves a little slowly for my tastes but is still a good read. I'll give it a 3, possibly upgrading to a 4 somewhere down the line.

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03/14/2012 page 8
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Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent I haven't. I decided to give this one a try after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.


message 2: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent If Stieg Larsson is any indication, the Swedes aren't in a hurry to move things along. Doesn't Kenneth Brannagh play Wallander in the series?


message 3: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Maybe it's all of Scandinavia and not just the Swedes. I need to get through the Andrew Vachss book I'm reading and start this one posthaste.


message 4: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed I read the second Wallander but i should read this series from the start. Its more mundane, more Beck/McBain type police than thrillers like Larsson.


message 5: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent I liked it but it made me tired. Poor Wallander couldn't catch a break.


Kemper I read the first couple of these after seeing the Brannagh series and liked them, but then I read The Man from Beijing and I disliked it so much that it kind of killed my Mankell enthusiasm.


message 7: by Mohammed (last edited Mar 16, 2012 10:29AM) (new)

Mohammed Dan wrote: "I liked it but it made me tired. Poor Wallander couldn't catch a break."

Yeah i found the second too bleak in a mundane and way too close to home setting for me. Why do you think i like to read american,brit crime books. They can be bleak, noir, police detective but they are never too close to home, depressing in a very Swedish way.


message 8: by Dan (last edited Mar 16, 2012 11:01AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent I'd say this book is more closely tied to it's setting than most American crime books of the same type. Or maybe it just seems that way to me since I'm American.


Melki But could he compete in a "bleak-off" with Vachss?


message 10: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Melki wrote: "But could he compete in a "bleak-off" with Vachss?"

Hard to say. Vachss' stories are bleaker but I'd say Wallander's life rivals Burke's for sheer bleakness.


message 11: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed Dan wrote: "I'd say this book is more closely tied to it's setting than most American crime books of the same type. Or maybe it just seems that way to me since I'm American."

Its not only because you are american who dont know the setting. It seems the same way to me. His setting,his life is bleak even by swedish standards. Not the most promising place to live in this country either.


message 12: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Mohammed wrote: "Dan wrote: "I'd say this book is more closely tied to it's setting than most American crime books of the same type. Or maybe it just seems that way to me since I'm American."

Its not only because..."


I'm curious. Did you read this in English or Swedish?


message 13: by Mohammed (last edited Mar 17, 2012 10:49AM) (new)

Mohammed Dan wrote: "Mohammed wrote: "Dan wrote: "I'd say this book is more closely tied to it's setting than most American crime books of the same type. Or maybe it just seems that way to me since I'm American."

Its..."


Swedish of course. My reading language is swedish since i have gone to school,lived in this country for 70% of my life. I would be a traitor if i read Swedish crime most acclaimed author in English :P

I feel bad enough of the fact i read more books in English than i read books in Swedish.


message 14: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent I wonder how much those of us who read it in English are missing by not reading it in Swedish.


message 15: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Dan wrote: "I liked it but it made me tired. Poor Wallander couldn't catch a break."

Poor Wallander indeed. Was he endlessly drinking coffee at three a.m. and having insomnia? I kind of want to give him a big comforter and let him take a nap on my couch.


message 16: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Wallander needs a hug and somewhere warm to sleep.


James Thane I think I liked this a little better than you did. Still, I have at least one other Wallander in my stack of books-to-read and have been passing it over in favor of others. I found the character intriguing, but as you suggest, the plot moves along at something less than break-neck speed.


message 18: by Mara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mara Dan wrote: "I liked it but it made me tired. Poor Wallander couldn't catch a break."

Very good description.


message 19: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Thanks. I haven't forgotten what a sad bastard Wallander was in ensuing years.


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