Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

Title: Faceless Killers
Author: Henning Mankell
Year Published: 1997
Genre: Crime Fiction
My Rating: 3 on 5

After I enjoyed reading The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, my friend JoV recommended that I try my hand at other Scandinavian crime fiction novels. We got talking about it and she introduced me to Nordic Challenge 2011 and I took it up in order to read more Nordic crime fiction. I had no clues what books to read and again, JoV came to the rescue. She recommended some famous novels and authors and I picked up the first novel in the Wallander series.

Faceless Killers shows Kurt Wallander, a policeman in Sweden, solving the case of double murder of a farmer couple, who are brutally murdered in their farmhouse. The novel starts with a very interesting plot – the run up to the crime, the fear of the farmer who discovers the crime, the mention of a horse which seems odd – the scene is set and you are eager to know who is the murderer.

Enters Wallander who is assigned to this case and you are already impressed with him. His wife has left him recently, his daughter refuses to talk to him and his aged dad does not appreciate him. While his personal life is in a turmoil, he needs to give all his energy to the case at hand. Wallander displays a passion for crime investigation and it somewhere rubs on you. You want to solve the case too!

The plot is interesting. The first few pages grabs the reader and has your complete attention. The sub-plots keep your interest piqued. Wallander’s character is well etched and he is something you can identify with. The intentional interrupts to the crime story to give us a glimpse of Wallander’s personal life comes as a welcome change to the pulse racing pace of the main plot.While the book has a promising start and maintains its pace and mood for almost half the book, it begins to get boring when the investigation hits a roadblock. The story loses its momentum and when Wallander finally reaches a turning point and gets a clue about the murderer, you no longer care. After this point, it’s a simple run and chase story. The case is solved and you don’t even realize it.

While reading a crime novel, the reader should suddenly realize who the culprit is – it should be like a a-ha moment, as it happens in some of Agatha Christie novels. But, that a-ha moment never appears in this book, which was a big let down for me. The book held a lot of promise, but was a disappointment. This does not discourage me from reading more of Mankell. I want to read a few more in Wallander series and see how they fair.

Faceless Killers was made into a 90-minute television edition and was aired on BBC. Now, that would be interesting to watch.

This book qualifies for Nordic Challange 2011 and The New Author Challenge 2011.

20 Responses to “Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell”

  1. JoV Says:

    Thanks for the mention! That was quick. You got into the Wallander’s series already. The series is a permanent feature of the British TV guide. Believe it or not, I haven’t seen even one of them. that’s because I have young children with me every prime time of the week. 😦
    The series went on and on and on.. so something must have come out good from this. Fingers crossed. I would be interested to hear what you think about his other books. 😀

    • anaamica Says:

      I need to check the local TV guide to see if it’s aired here.

      I was at the local library and happened to spot ‘A Suitable Boy’. Even though I knew the book was huge all along, I was stumped when I actually held it in my hand. The font size was too small and it was a paperback – I am sure the book’s spine will break by the time I finish reading it. I am already jittery about reading it!

      • Anonymous Says:

        A Suitable Boy is one of my favorites ever! Don’t worry about the size, you’ll be sorry it’s over once you reach the end… Although I did have to buy a new copy after lending it to a couple of friends – it did fall apart!

  2. Poppet Says:

    Just a note: I believe that on pbs.org you can watch several Wallander series for free. Go to http://www.pbs.org and look under Masterpiece Mystery.

    Wallander is a great writer. If you like Faceless Killers you have many hours of reading ahead of you.

    • anaamica Says:

      Thanks for that! I found the Wallander episodes here. And Poirot and Miss Marple too!

      What other Mankell books do you recommend for me? I heard ‘The Man from Beijing’ is not that good.

      • Carlos Says:

        You can read “Kenesen” “Innan frosten ” “Danslärarens återkomst”(El retorno del profesor de baile) “Villospår” (La falsa pista), etc. if you read Mankell all series Wallander´s book are good. Sorry for my English. Good luck for all and enjoy it!!!!!!

  3. Angela Says:

    Congratulations on your journey through Scandinavian crime! It is awesome! Nordic crime novels are so unique and special.

    There is an Icelandic author that you might enjoy. Arnaldur Indriðason is a fantastic writer. His first novel, Jar City, was made into a movie as well a year or so ago.

    What I appreciate about Scandinavian writers is the fact that they put a human face on all concerned, from the victim to the detective and even the criminals. Also how they go into detail without bogging down the story is very special.


    • anaamica Says:

      Yeah, Nordic crime fiction is definitely something different. I read Larsson’s millennium trilogy and was hooked. I am just entering the world of Nordic fiction and I am already enjoying it.

      Thanks for the recommendation. I will check if my library has Jar City.

  4. Carlos Says:

    My english is no good, please excuse me, I read all Wallander series books and always Indridason in my country Argentina I can found “La voz”, “Silencio Sepulcral” and ” Las Marismas” three execelents books . Don´t forget to read “KENESEN” H. Mankell, 2007.
    Thanks and Good Year for all

    • anaamica Says:

      Hi Carlos!

      Thanks for the recommedations! I will look out for Indridason. And the other books you mentioned – are they translated to English? And Kinsen is translated to English as ‘The Man from Beijing’ right?

      • Carlos Says:

        The truth is not the translation into English but asked by this writer and probably find something. Another author of the classic American detective novel but is Raymond Chandler several novels were made into films in the 50’s I think. I hope you find something and good luck with your search

      • Carlos Says:

        It’s probably that the translation of ‘The Man from Beijing’is a book where there execelente look current political system of Sweden and China very interesting highly recommended.

      • Carlos Says:

        It is not thriller but it is a wonderful writer, something hard about but highly recommended book is called Oe Kenzaburo Nobel prize for literature, “The Silent Scream” is not like the title insurance is in English but translated, search for it in your library confidence. Greetings from Argentina

  5. Ian Ward Says:

    If you like Nordic fiction you must read Jo Nesbo’s novels.

  6. eveline reiner Says:

    i´ve read all wallanders. the chinese was not so good. I like the real old wallander. A little bit fat, but very symphatic. he was real. eveline

  7. Zee Says:

    I’ve never actually read the Wallander, I’ve only seen the Swedish tv movies of them. I really should pick one up.

  8. 2011 : Looking back « What I have been reading… Says:

    […] Most Thrilling Unputdownable Read: Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell […]

  9. tom macdraing Says:

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