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Faceless Killers

(Kurt Wallander #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  69,184 ratings  ·  3,576 reviews
First in the Kurt Wallander series.
It was a senselessly violent crime: on a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. And as if this didn't present enough problems for the Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman's last word is "foreign", leaving the police the
Paperback, UK Edition, 304 pages
Published 2002 by Harvill Crime in Vintage (first published 1991)
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Peggy Theriault Really liked this. Great characters. I’ve ordered 6 more of his books.
Ruthanne Johnston Compared to the average American murder mysteries of today, there doesn’t seem to be as much gore or gore just for the sake of shock. The country, the…moreCompared to the average American murder mysteries of today, there doesn’t seem to be as much gore or gore just for the sake of shock. The country, the weather are typically gloomy and cold for that country in the far northern hemisphere. I hope you’ll try one and hope you’ll enjoy it.(less)

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Jim Fonseca
Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

All detectives have to have their personality quirks and personal problems to keep the story interesting. But Swedish detective Kurt Wallander has so many things going on that it would take a full hour with Dr. Phil to even make a dent.

His wife left him three months ago and she is filing for divorce. He may be falling in love with a beautiful young prosecutor, but she is married. He is estranged from his wayward daughter who travels around the world not tellin
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
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Peter Fogtdal
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
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
Sep 29, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
I think I understand Kurt Wallander better now than I did when I read the series in my mid-twenties.

It isn't all that easy to grow older, more tired and disillusioned in Sweden. After all, we're supposed to be a role model for others, and what if nothing works out here? Marriage, work, parenting, fitness, happiness, all those things come crashing down on us here in our welfare system as well, and then it is dark and rainy most of the time, and just before Midsummer, we all get the odd nostalgic
James Thane
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
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
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Violence and Bigotry!

This is the first book I’ve read by Henning Mankell. An old farmer is murdered in his home. His wife is a survivor.

The city of Ystad is in an uproar, believing that immigrants are the cause. Kurt Wallander struggles with the paranoia of bigotry, as well as the stress of having to search for a killer.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hoped this would be better. 5 of 10 stars
Ben Loory
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... ...more
Rachel Hall
Faceless Killers marked the debut appearance of the dyspeptic Ystad detective, Kurt Wallander, and although the Swedish language version was written in 1991, the English translation did not follow until 1997. Given that my previous meeting with Wallander came in the form of the final novella of the series, I am struck by how much more gloomy and self-pitying the character seems to be in this first case, noticeably disposed to wallowing. From his early days as a new recruit in Malmö through to tw ...more
Jul 04, 2015 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
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 20, 2014 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
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of crime fiction
Recommended to TL by: Got if after I saw the BBC series, I think... not sure
Shelves: favorites
Wow, didn't realize it's been this long since I last re-read the series... where did the time go?

Still love these characters, not a perfect book but I had/have so much fun with these and they got me through a stressful work week too.

I don't remember how I came across these, most likely it was through here. Maybe through someone I talked to here *shrugs* My first introduction to Swedish crime fiction :)

Narrator was pretty good. His female voices were so-so but he brought the story to life very w
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Justice doesn't only mean that people who commit crime are punished. It also means that we can never give up seeking the truth."

'Faceless Killers' is the first in the Kurt Wallander series of books. Wallander's life is a mess: his wife has left him, his daughter refuses to speak to him and even his own father barely tolerates him. Wallander eats badly, buries himself in work and drinks his nights away in loneliness.

Early one freezing January morning a farmer discovers that his neighbours Johann
Dave Schaafsma
After reading several of the more sensational Jo Nesbo thriller type mysteries, I decided to check this series out, hoping to also see the British TV series (though set in Sweden) starring Kenneth Branagh. Kurt Wallender features some of the usual detective cliches; he's older, dumped by his wife, eatung poorly and gaining weight, binge-drinking. To humanize him further he's estranged from his daughter Linda and his father is slipping into dementia. And his partner is dying of cancer.

So, a kind
Kylie H
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, crime
I have had this on my shelf for a long time and glad that I finally got around to reading it.
Wallander is another, somewhat dysfunctional policeman. Grappling with the fact that his wife has left him, his daughter is estranged from him and his father appears to be becoming demented.
Wallander finds himself investigating a rather brutal murder on an elderly couple who live on a farm. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to the murder than just a robbery gone wrong. The story sort of plods a
Mar 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No-one
Very bad book. Got sick of it after about 50 pages, kept going till 100 pages (my rule), then thought, well I might as well get credit for finishing it, so slogged it out.
I had read another book by this author (The Man from Beijing), which was also terrible, but gave him the benefit of the doubt. The other book wasn't from this series, which is famous with its detective Kurt Wallander, inspiring a TV series etc. So, I thought, I will give the author another chance with the first Wallander myster
“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 detect
Feb 20, 2012 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
Dana-Adriana B.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks-en
Nice Swedish thriller. Kurt Wallander has to solve a brutal murder on an isolated farm. 6 months after he still has no lead, but then.... He is determined not to let go of the case, but is not easy.
Apr 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lewis Weinstein
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.
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephen Franks
I read one other Wallander story (Dogs of Riga) a couple of years ago and thought it was ok, without being earth shattering. So, I decided to give the author another go. Sadly, the experience has not made me a fan.

Inspector Wallander of the Swedish Police finds himself investigating a brutal murder of an elderly couple. There is evidence that the perpetrators may be 'foreign' and this in turn creates tension between the more right-wing Swedes and asylum seeking migrants sheltering in various loc
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Reading 1001: Faceless Killers - Henning Mankell 12 38 Dec 05, 2020 05:10PM  
Henning Mankell is no more :-( 3 87 Feb 14, 2017 09:02AM  
Play Book Tag: Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell- 3 stars 8 26 Jan 09, 2017 10:49AM  
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Pulp Fiction: November 2014 - Faceless Killers 15 66 Dec 07, 2014 05:44AM  

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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.

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 (Kurt Wallander, #8)
  • The Pyramid: And Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries (Kurt Wallander, #9)
  • The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander, #10)

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