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Faceless Killers: A Kurt Wallander Mystery | [Henning Mankell]

Faceless Killers: A Kurt Wallander Mystery

It was a crime of senseless violence. On a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse, an elderly farmer was bludgeoned to death, his wife left to die with a noose around her neck. As if this didn't present enough problems for Ystad police inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman's last word, his only tangible clue, were foreign. If publicized, they could be the match that would inflame Sweden's already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.
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Publisher's Summary

First in the Kurt Wallander mystery series.

It was a crime of senseless violence. On a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse, an elderly farmer was bludgeoned to death, his wife left to die with a noose around her neck. As if this didn't present enough problems for Ystad police inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman's last word, his only tangible clue, were foreign. If publicized, they could be the match that would inflame Sweden's already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.

With this case - unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the young prosecutor who has piqued his interest - Wallander feels he has a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes, though it will require all of his talent to do so.

©1991 Henning Mankell, English translation ©1997 Steven T. Murray; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"An exquisite novel of mesmerizing depth and suspense." (Los Angeles Times)
"Mankell's work mixes compelling procedural details with strong social consciousness....A superior novel and a harbinger of great things to come." (Booklist)
"[A] brilliant U.S. debut....The author goes well beyond the narrow police procedural in creating a full-bodied Wallender and in casting light on the refugee problem in contemporary Swedish society." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

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3.7 (809 )
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  •  
    Ruben St. Louis, MO, USA 10-27-09
    Ruben St. Louis, MO, USA 10-27-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved the book, but not the reader."

    I bought this book because I had listened to the Martin Beck stories by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo read by Tom Weiner (which are great) and I wanted more Nordic mysteries.
    This was the first time I heard Mr. Dick Hill as a narrator, and it was very hard getting used to his style. Almost painful. Having listened to Tom Weiner, and other great Audible readers such as Simon Vance and Patrick Tull (all of whom can really make you feel you are listening to different characters) I was very disappointed because listening to Mr. Hill, I could only hear at most 3 "different" voices, all of which, however, had the same inflection of what sounded like a 70 year old man. What a surprise when I Googled Mr. Hill and he does not look much older than 40! I listened to format 3. Will try format 4 next time.
    The book itself was great and I will probably buy some more in the series. But I would have preferred a different narrator. Hopefully Mr. Hill just had a cold or something when he recorded this book.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Mcafee Texas USA 08-29-12
    Daniel Mcafee Texas USA 08-29-12 Member Since 2005

    danmc

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nothing Special...."

    This is my first Henning Mankell / Kurt Wallander novel.

    I have read/listened to a few Nordic region writers this past year and figured I'd give Mankell a listen as he is a well-noted writer from that region of the world.

    The mystery and story in and of itself is good, but nothing spectacular. Likewise, the main character is very unspectacular. Having heard of this character before, mentioned in reviews and word of mouth, I had much higher expectations.

    Likewise, I went ahead and purchased one of Audible's package deals which included the first three books in this series all at once.

    While the stories do improve, I am underwhelmed with both Mankell and the Wallander series - quite average.

    The narrator, Dick Hill was good, but he is so "white-bread", he's not the perfect fit here.

    Granted, overall, not bad, but nothing I will seek out in the future - 3 Mankell / Wallander books is enough for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gail El Cajon, CA, United States 09-01-10
    Gail El Cajon, CA, United States 09-01-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    123
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    "Not bad"

    As usual, Mankell and Hill make a great team. The story was interesting, although not a page turner for me... but decent. It's not too overly gruesome, and I enjoyed the development of the main characters and their flaws. It's not a long book so you won't get board and I would recommend it if you can get it on a very good sale.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg minnetonka, MN, United States 02-15-10
    Greg minnetonka, MN, United States 02-15-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    191
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    "Good Book Ruined"

    This is a good book, worth a "4" but I don't like Dick Hill's narration.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl Wakarusa, IN, USA 12-21-09
    Carl Wakarusa, IN, USA 12-21-09 Member Since 2009
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    1
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    "master author at work"

    This is the start of an awesome detective series. Mankell is a master author who keeps you in suspense. And Dick Hill as the reader is excellent, he does a great job of portaying Kurt Wallander, the main character. Awesome book that kept my attention, and leaves me wanting to read more of Mankell's books.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 05-12-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 05-12-13 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Chill Winter Mystery"

    Have you ever watched an episode of “Law and Order - Special Victims Unit” and thought, just for once, it would be at least amusing to have some random call come in totally unrelated to the case? Maybe Detective Elliott Stabler could pick up the phone, and you would hear him say, “I don’t care if you were in the living room first, let your sister sit on the couch, and you better have your homework done when I get home!“ I would love to see a close up of Detective Olivia Benson trying desperately to think of an excuse to get out of hosting a Pampered Chef party for a cousin she only sees once a year.

    It never happens, of course - every conversation, every call, and every camera angle somehow leads seamlessly into solving a perplexing mystery, often halfway through the show. The character actor with the most lines is usually the perpetrator. And if Det. Benson has a cousin, I don’t know about it.

    “Faceless Killers: A Kurt Wallender Mystery” is the opposite in story telling. Wallender and his fellow detectives spend hundreds of hours following up on promising leads that prove suspects completely innocent. Wallender’s sister comes to visit him for a new days, and he doesn’t talk to her about the case. She doesn’t inadvertently mention some bit of history that turns Wallender in the right direction. Cringe-worthy social situations happen. Wallender gets knocked around a bit, and he’s clumsy enough to almost kill himself on a stakeout. Wallender’s also pretty depressed, but he does have good reason to be.

    This book seems more true to what a real detective’s job is like. It’s not a typical American mystery novel, but that’s a good thing. I enjoyed Henning Mankell’s book

    The narration was annoying,. Dick Hill’s pronunciation of Swedish words was fine, but I grew up with a lot of Swedish people,. If Hill was trying to narrate in English with a Swedish accent, he missed it by about 3400 miles and hit New York City instead.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Cambridge, MA, United States 01-23-12
    Amy Cambridge, MA, United States 01-23-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Interesting Swedish Mystery"

    Having watched the Wallander series from the BBC, with Kenneth Branagh in the lead role, I was curious to read the books. Mankell 's narrative places heavy emphasis on the inner life of Wallander, as well as what he sees as the deterioration of Swedish society in the modern age. I was fascinated by the differences in how I'm used to Americans thinking about and pursuing criminal activity verses how the Swedish characters engage in police work. They are so much more shocked by the violence and injustices they encounter, and so less ready to shoot first and ask questions later. Although Mankell clearly feels that his country is succumbing to hatefulness and greed, I felt relief to read about people for whom violence is still shocking. I loved arm-chair traveling to Sweden and will continue with the series.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Parker, CO, United States 02-04-10
    John Parker, CO, United States 02-04-10 Member Since 2006
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    "you surely have something better to do"

    This is the first review I've written but felt compelled to advise people to do something else with their time. It's not that it's poorly written or presented, it's just that there is 'no there there'--no suspense, no plot twists, no particularly interesting characters, no real 'mystery' in the ordinary sense. I would have given it one star but for the decent writing style and narration. It's like reading one year in the life of an especially boring accountant. Maybe that will be the sequel. I wonder why the author thought it was worth his time to write it, the editor to edit it, the translator to translate it and, above all, anyone who's been warned and who hasn't read every other book in the world already to read it.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christy Plano, TX, United States 08-21-14
    christy Plano, TX, United States 08-21-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Left you hanging..."

    Well, I had high hopes but alas...This is NO Dragon Tattoo. It was like it started as a good idea, but then he got tired of writing by the end of the book. I know that this is the first of a series, but i think a book in a series should stand on its own. I have read better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George SANTA FE, NM, United States 02-17-14
    George SANTA FE, NM, United States 02-17-14 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Faceless?"

    I can identify with Wallender, the cop hero in this book. He's middle aged, divorced, eating and drinking too much and his boss drives him relentlessly. I kept waiting for him to collapse, but he never did and I was glad to see that it ended well for him. I was also struck with the similarities between Sweden and the USA in culture, immigration concerns and just cop similarities. This is my second, but won't be my last Mankell book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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