Peter Fogtdal's Reviews > Faceless Killers

Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell
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's review
Oct 24, 2008

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 the characters come alive for me, and I was a tiny bit bored as well. I made the mistake of teaching this novel at Portland State University and my students absolutely hated it. Every single of them. I didn't though. I like the portrait of the main character and the small meditations on immigrants and racism in Sweden.
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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Larissa Hi, Peter-

I tend to agree with you about Mankell--although I did like Faceless Killers well enough, I think he's hugely overrated and I'm not sure why he is the (Scandinavian) crime novelist that everyone swoons over. You mentioned in your review, however, that there are several Danish and three Swedish authors that you think are far superior to Mankell. Were you speaking of crime novelists in particular, or authors overall? I'm extremely interested in Danish fiction (crime genres and otherwise) but have found a dearth of Danish crime novels which have been translated into English. I've read Anders Bodelsen, Christian Jungersen, Leif Davidsen, and Michael Larsen--might you have any other suggestions?

Peter Fogtdal Hi Larissa.

Oh God, I only meant CRIME novels, yes.

However, you seem to be in the know about Danish thrillers. Off the bat, I can only think of a big hit from last year, LIBRI DI LUCA that has been translated into other languages. The writer's name escapes me but you can google the title which IS the original title un Danish (!).

If you're extremely interested in Danish fiction, please get hold of my newly translated THE TSAR's DWARF. It's doing well in the US, it has 67 reviews on, great reviews in Seattle and San Francisco and I can recommend it highly :-)

slightly self absorbed

Larissa Hi, Peter-

Thanks for your suggestion. I'm actually in the middle of reading The Tsar's Dwarf right now, and am really enjoying it. Sørine has such a distinctive voice--it must have been fascinating (and difficult) to flesh out her character.

I see that you're reading at Scandinavia House in Manhattan in a few weeks. Hopefully, I'll be able to attend. Good luck with the rest of your book tour!



message 4: by Peter (last edited Nov 03, 2008 08:54AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Peter Fogtdal Yeah, please drop by. I'm usually pretty off-the-wall at my presentations, but I think I'll have to behave that evening. Scandinavia House is on Park Avenue, you know. So drop by, say hi, have a glass of wine or three.

Connie Harrison I have to agree. I like the PBS series based on the series, but thought the book was dull.

Coalbanks Dull does not bother me. Life often is dull. Even if for some of the participants it is horrifically exciting it may not seem so to others, even those who have the task of controlling the excitement & cleaning-up afterwards. I looked on the dull, flat tone of the series as an indication of Wallender's state of mind, somewhat burnt-out & disallusioned with society & himself.

Constance I was extemely pleased when I read your review and even more excited that you live in PDX as I do. Iam ordering The Tsar's Dwarf! This will hold my interst 110 more than Mankells. Please suggest a series that is similar to Jo Nesbo. For me he had the perfect character in Harry Hole, He was believable and a man with real feelings. I'm rambling, but want to thank Peter Fogtdal for offeringthe Tsars Dwarf. Bravo!!

Peter Fogtdal Hi Constance,

I don't read that many thrillers, so I may not be the right to ask but as far as I'm concerned John Le Carre is still the master. He writes as well as any literary fiction writer, and his characters are interesting and engaging.

Constance Thanks for the suggestions. I have Le Carre's first book tagged to read. I appreciate your response.

message 10: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Rice Have now read all of Mankell's books. Each book was more well written than the previous one on the series. Really enjoyed all the Nesbo books. Very engrossing and I liked them better than Mankell's. margo

Ms.pegasus Do, I'm not the only one who found the writing just plain bad. Maybe if reads better in the original Swedish? Thanks for mentioning Tsar's Dwarf. Will definitely add it to my list.

Armand Lattizori Your review is spot on. I was laughing the second time the main character ate so fast he got the runs lol, even had to change his underwear. I think whenever the author ran out of things to say, the wallander would just get another. up of coffee. Terrible book. If Mannell is the best of Swedish writers, then I'm done with Swedes in the literary sense.

Armand Lattizori Wallander, not the wallander.

message 14: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul D To be fair Armand , the Swedes do love their coffee...

Rafael Julivert Un libro sobre un Mcguffin de unos negros que al final eran blancos (checos y ajedrecistas). ¡Vaya rollo!

message 16: by Sandra (new) - added it

Sandra Pousson I'm sorry, but I give up. I gave it the obligatory 50 pages but I couldn't take it any more. Maybe his books get better but I don't think I can hang around to find out. Back to Nesbo and French until Adler-Olsen comes out with a new one. Putting The Tsar's Dwarf on my list.

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