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Faceless Killers Paperback – January 14, 2003
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“An especially satisfying crime novel, like those of such past masters as Georges Simenon, Nicholas Freeling, and Sweden's own Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Intelligent, moving and topical, this is a thriller of the very best kind.” —The Times (London)
“A well-crafted police procedural, the story moves along at a brisk pace and comes to an exciting climax.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
From the Inside Flap
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 one tangible clue they have-and in the process, the match that could inflame Sweden's already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.
Unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the beautiful but married young prosecuter who has peaked his interest, in this case, Wallander finds a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes, but soon comes to realize that it will require all his reserves of energy and dedication to solve.
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depressed as the weather. Most of the Wallander series are set in gloom. Most of the time our detective is fighting his Demons. In Reading the story, words allow us direct admittance to his thoughts, words allow us to see how he deducts the important from the chaos. We understand how his thinking leads to developing a working hypothesis, a strategy.
Wallander 's great detection of the crime and deduction of what happened is there for us in the book. In a movie you follow the action. In a book you hear the thoughts behind the action. In this story a heinous crime is committed. How he gets from the scene of the crime to the solution is a series of twists, dead ends, and surprise. Wallander's private life is forever butting in But, our detective is extraordinary. He puts away the unnecessary. He focuses completely.
One, Kurt Wallander, the main character, an ordinary, middle-aged policeman in a small town in southern Sweden, soon becomes someone you feel you know. He is someone who goes through the same (often depressing) experiences so many of us go through in our lives, as a marriage grows stale, as a child turns into a rebellious teenager, as a parent slowly sinks into old age.
Two, this is a book with deep roots in Swedish society, and by extension, in the society of any advanced country that calls itself (like Sweden) a democracy, that believes it has humanitarian traditions. And it's a book that does not shy from raising deep, uncomfortable questions. In fact, Mankell (the author) has lived in Africa and brought his own views to his books and the character Kurt Wallander. As he explained on his website,
“Racism for me is a crime, and therefore it seemed natural that I wrote a crime novel. It was after that the idea of a policeman was born.”
The book is peppered with Mankell's personal opinions about racism and how refugees are viewed and ill-treated in refugee camps in Sweden.
And that's what makes the book important, highly relevant to our times - a must read, particularly now with the on-going migrant crisis in Europe.
Beset with his own life in near-shambles, Wallander begins the painstaking process of finding the killers with little more to go on than coincidence and one word, "foreign."
Mankell weaves a tale filled with examining Sweden's immigration crisis, elder care, opera, failed marriages, father-daughter estrangements, media antics, all weaved into a tightly written page-turner of a police procedural. Mankell's style is simple and head-on. It's no wonder his Wallander books enjoy such acclaim. I'm hooked. Can't wait to get started on the next one.
This book begins with a horrific murder that Wallander must solve, but along the way, things happen that take priority, but he sees them through and returns back to doggedly work through the original case.
Great start to a series and I am hoping the other books are as good as this one
Top international reviews
There's an estranged daughter, ex-wife and a difficult father, approaching senility, thrown in with the murder mystery. It gives the novel an authentically human dimension. The crime is not neatly detected either - perhaps, again, a more realistic take on the crime thriller formula.
That said, I did find myself wanting more from the subsidiary characters - all lacked depth and definition. There lies the difficulty, I suppose, in attempting to straddle two genres. In the end, the imperative of the crime thriller overriding the demands of literary fiction.
The main character, a police detective comes across as very blunt. He is forgetful and not the sharpest tool in the box. It is quite frustrating to read about his progress (or non progress) in solving the crime and I could not warm up to the character at all.
There are numerous leads of who might have committed the brutal crime but they are all drawn out endlessly till about 90% of the book is finished. Then, the last 10% feel extremely rushed, with a sudden discovery (completely taken out of thin air, something the detective had not thought about before- surprise, surprise!) and the murder is solved, without ever explaining it's brutality or the manner of it.
I could not wait to be done with this book. Bad from start to finish.
Dull , from start to finish. The main character is particularly unlikeable although I have no problem loving other dysfunctional detectives (Hole, Noren, Lund, Morse, Rebus...... The list goes on and on). Wallender is a disgusting, sleazy character, and most unforgiveable of all, inefficient!! The only way he eventually solves a crime is by sheer dumb luck and other people's work. The writing is stilted and laboured. I shall not be reading any more by this author.
One brutal crime leads to another, there are many false leads which are followed to their ultimate dead ends. The crimes are all eventually sewn up and solved but I found there to be something missing.
The final solution of the original crime wa arrived at almost by accident. The plot seemed to get more and more far-fetched as it progressed and not all the loose ends were tightly tied off.
It is a good read and will keep you turning the pages but you will need to be very broad-minded to get over some of the improbabilities.
There were a few mistakes which crept through the proofreading process but nothing too invasive or distracting.
My rating for this book is 3.5/5 rounded up to a 4.
Give it a try, it is enjoyable, but don't expect perfection.
This is the first book in the 'Inspector Wallander' series, and you can tell. Although the writing is good and gets everything across in the best way possible, you can tell that this is Mankell's first book as as times he comes across as uncertain in his writing. It didn't put me off too much though, as I intend to further read more from Mankell.
The next book in the series it 'The Dogs of Riga' which is set outside of Sweden, so I will be able to see how well Mankell handles a new setting early on in his writing, and I will see if he has gotten more confident in his writing as well.
The book did impress me, despite its weariness at times, so I will be purchasing the next in the series at some point.
Wallander is a run-of-the-mill rural police detective who is used to dealing with run-of-the-mill issues. However, this all changes when an elderly couple are brutally murdered on a remote farm.
The rest of the story follows that murder case as it develops, which is interesting in itself. However, there is also the development of the Wallander character, who has a bit of a dysfunctional home life.
Whilst the crime itself is something that could really be dealt with in any country, what maintained my interest, and has led me to ordering the second book in the series, is the setting. Rural Sweden is a bit out of the ordinary for a crime thriller, but it works because it's a whole new experience - I don't know what society is like in Sweden and this gives be a welcome insight.
A very good crime thriller that is a bit out of the ordinary. Highly recommended.
Many of the themes in TTM have their roots in this first novel -Wallander' s dogged investigative style, his familial relationships, his battles with his demons. But at its heart it's a decent police procedural/crime thriller. It opens with murder and the rest of the book is built around solving that crime. There's a few twists and turns, some red herring, everything necessary to keep the plot moving forward. There's also a good dose of socio-political content a lá sjöwall and wahlöö, in fact there are echoes of their novels throughout.
I love the melancholy feel of the novel -because it's written essentially from Wallander's perspective his troubles inform the view. This is not a sunny novel, but if you're wanting to read some Scandi noir, I imagine that's exactly what you're looking for.
This story (although a little difficult to get a handle on the Swedish names)was a great read for me.
Wallander seems to be a tradional detective but gets lead away by his hunches which often are wrong.
Brutal murders, immigration and throw into the mix racial hatred and you have the makings of a very good plot which worked well.
Translation from Swedish to English does mean that the writing doesn't flow quite as well as it might have but this is only a minor criticism.