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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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Mankell, Henning: Faceless Killers

  Amazon  

4 stars

TWEETABLE REVIEW: 4* Swedish procedural: Wallander investigates the murder of a farm couple. Simple prose, good story, great character. https://www.book-blog.com/2012/06/mankell-henning-faceless-killers.html

Faceless Killers is the first book in Henning Mankell's series of procedurals featuring Kurt Wallander, a police detective in Ystad, Sweden. In this outing Wallander and his crew investigate the shockingly violent and ostensibly motiveless murder of an old farm couple. The case is given a lot of media attention and winds up fanning racial tensions in the country, which makes things that much harder for the police. The police work Mankell describes is mostly tedious and routine: exhaustive canvassing of potential witnesses, tracking down everyone who knew the victims, paperwork, updates drafted for the press. It's a difficult job punctuated only occasionally by moments of drama. The mystery here is a good one, but the book is more about the man. Wallander is forty-two years old and given to melancholy and struggling with personal issues: his daughter shuts him out; his father is slipping into senility; his wife left him three months before the book begins.

Faceless Killers was written originally in Swedish. In translation, at least, the prose style is very simplistic, readable but lacking in poetry. One reads it for the character of Wallander, and perhaps for its setting, in this case a bleak Swedish winter. I came to this book after watching the PBS Mystery series featuring Kenneth Branagh as Wallander. On screen those Swedish backdrops are gorgeous. The same might be said of Branagh, actually. I suspect that having visions of both in my head as I was reading this book made me like it more than I would have otherwise.

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