Review: Faceless Killers, by Henning Mankell

Kurt Wallander is a middle-aged Swedish police detective working in the town of Ystad.  He’s recently divorced, and estranged from his only daughter.  In the midst of these emotional struggles he suddenly finds himself investigating the brutal murder of an elderly farmer and his wife. Before her death, the wife repeatedly uttered a single word:  “foreign.”  Shortly after the double murder, a Somali man is killed at a refugee camp.  It’s up to the police team to determine whether the murders are linked, and the significance of the dead woman’s last words.

Wallander and his crew conduct a thorough investigation, learning more about the elderly farmer’s life and some personal secrets that offer clues.  There’s a fair amount of criminal-stalking, chase scenes, and drama.  But about 2/3 of the way through this novel, the story’s pace flags and the investigative team seems to wander about aimlessly.  And then, just as suddenly, everything is solved and neatly tied up in a bow.

This novel is the first in a series of Wallander mysteries.  I enjoyed the 2008 Wallander dramatizations starring Kenneth Branagh, which are adaptations of later books.  I wanted to read this book before more episodes — including Faceless Killers — air on PBS this autumn.  It might just be this particular storyline, but this book did not live up to the drama and excitement of the TV series.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Faceless Killers, by Henning Mankell

  1. I’ve recorded the series and am hoping to read this book soon. I’m sorry to hear that the TV series is better, but at least that means I won’t feel guilty about not reading all the books!

    • I know what you mean, Jackie. According to my husband, the subsequent books are better. But I’m not really interested in reading those where I’ve already seen the story on TV, and since the next series will air in the US very soon, I won’t have time to read them first anyway. So I think I’ll stick with the TV version!

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