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.