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.
"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)
This is my first listen to an Henning Mankell novel, and I plan to come back for more ... but not if Dick Hill is the narrator. I agree with other reviewers that he was not the best choice for a Swedish mystery novel. If it hadn't been clear that the novel was set in Sweden, I would have thought it was in NYC given Hill's narration. Simon Vance would have been more appropriate.
In spite of Hill's narration, I enjoyed the mystery itself, the insight into Swedish culture and politics, and the relentless cold and bleak landscape that Mankell paints with his words. It does well as an atmospheric mystery novel.
I found two things difficult, however: (1) developing sympathy for Wallender himself; and (2) accepting the fast shift through several months (and toward a new, improved Wallander) near the end of the novel. At times I found Wallendar to be pathetic in his heavy drinking and self-pity. I'm glad he seemed to clean up at the end, but it wasn't clear how he finally did that. In fact, I would have thought that the lull, the dragging on of the case, would have pushed him over the edge.
But my sentiments might have to do with the narration. A less obnoxious narration might have tempered the bad-boy behavior of Wallendar, and allowed me to feel more sympathetic. Mankell has piqued my interest with this first in the series, so I do expect to listen to more ... but only if there's a different narrator.
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.
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.
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.
This is the third Kurt Wallander novel by author Henning Mankell I've read, but the first in the prolific series. The first one I read was the White Lioness, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Shortly before this one, I read One Step Behind. Sadly, neither that one, nor Faceless Killers lived up to the standard set in White Lioness.
Wallander is as improbable a hero in modern crime fiction as you are liable to find. Fraught with self-doubt and an almost unerring instinct for self-sabotage, Wallander fumbles through this story before solving the brutal murder of an elderly couple with little more than blind luck. Strangely for a police officer, Wallander is as likely to forget his gun as he is to remember to carry it and is cursed with physical clumsiness that by all reason should get him killed. He is often taken by surprise in situations where he should be on heightened alert.
Estranged from both his daughter and his wife, Wallander spends much of the book indulging in self-pity. He drinks too much, talks too much and shows an uncanny knack for saying and doing the wrong thing. The author spends too much time letting us get to know the book's protagonist creating a distraction from a compelling plot.
Narrator Dick Hill is not one of my favorites, sometimes sounding more like a radio announcer than a storyteller. His portrayal of woman characters often makes them sound weak and wish-washy.
All of that said, the series appears to be very popular and has been made into a BBC TV series and at least one movie. But, I doubt I'll read another one.
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.
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.
Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."
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.
Cook, Steelworker, Sailor in Viet Nam. Retired after 4 decades as an RN. Share a birthday with Mark Twain and his love of "spinnin' a yarn"
Like other Scandinavian detective thrillers. This is spare but effective and convoluted but understandable. Really between Mankell and Nesbo I'm never going to be able to sleep peacefully again. Job well done.
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