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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

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (809 )
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3.9 (393 )
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3.9 (400 )
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3 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Jan Houston, TX, United States 04-23-12
    Jan Houston, TX, United States 04-23-12
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    "Is this a children's book?"

    I don't know, maybe I wasn't in the mood, but this title seemed very juvenile to me. I don't know if it was the author's fault or the narrator's or mine! I turned it off after one hour and said "Ugg, I've wasted another credit."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04-23-12
    04-23-12 Member Since 2009
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    "What a disappointment!"
    What would have made Faceless Killers better?

    The book did not get you into the characters. I never identified with any of them, they, like the book's title were faceless. The main character and most supporting characters all sounded the same. A better narrator might have helped. Simaon Vance for instance. Overall, I would not recommend this book.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    The Millenium Triology...again.


    What aspect of Dick Hill’s performance would you have changed?

    Voices all sounded the same.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Faceless Killers?

    Most.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richheimer México, Mexico 04-23-12
    Richheimer México, Mexico 04-23-12 Member Since 2010
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    "RR"

    Having previously listened to later Wallander novels, "Faceless Killers" comes in as a bit dull. The performance is awful, with few differences in tone and intonation between some characters, and apparent voice disguising tricks (like placing a handkerchef over the microphone) that are too obvious and unrefined.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kay in DC Washington, DC United States 03-05-12
    Kay in DC Washington, DC United States 03-05-12 Member Since 2002

    Kay

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    "Love Makell"

    I found Mankell after reading "The Girl ... " trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Went looking for other Swedish thrillers. I wouldn't so much call the Kurt Wallender series thrillers. More police procedurals, but that doesn't do them credit. As it turns out, I like them more than I like the Larsson books. Far more character development and examination of cultural issues than the standard cop stories. I read the latest Wallender story first. Now I will work my way through the series. My husband also has become a fan. In a few months, we are going to Denmark and intend to take a side trip to Ystadt, Sweden to see Wallender's haunts. The performance is also excellent. Mankell's works may not be great literature, and I enjoy great literature as well. But they are great reads without being simplistic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toni LAKE SHERWOOD, CA, United States 02-14-12
    Toni LAKE SHERWOOD, CA, United States 02-14-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Faceless Killers: Deliciously satisfying"
    Would you listen to Faceless Killers again? Why?

    Perhaps at a later date but because Henning Mankell is so prolific, there are many of his books I have yet to read. The Kurt Wallander series is exciting and I look forward to moving on, sequentially, through every one of these books and to watching the Wallander character develop.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Henning Mankell has humanized detective Kurt Wallander by allowing him to be somewhat flawed and vulnerable. The realistic interaction between all the characters, coupled with natural dialogue, reinforces the storyline so it seems completely plausible. This story is set in the early 1990s so the communications, the technology and the overall pace of life is a fraction less frantic and uncensored than the life we know today. It may be one reason that the discovery of two dead bodies in a life raft on the open sea is marginally less shocking to the 21st century reader than it might have been a little more than 20 years ago.


    What does Dick Hill bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    There is no question that Dick Hill's interpretation of every character enhances the listener's experience on many levels. Mr. Hill is an extraordinary reader who distinguishes each personality by a nuanced speech pattern and subtle rythm, making the listener feel like an eavesdropper on the actual conversation.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I'd love the luxury of listening, uninterrupted to the entire book... or the entire series for that matter. The great advantage of Dick Hill's reading is that it is both exciting and natural, so if I have to stop listening and start again later, I don't feel the need to


    Any additional comments?

    The entire Kurt Wallander series is entertaining, exciting and interesting. You will love this intelligent and completely believeable sleuth. The mysteries are just that... mysterious and perplexing. These are murder mysteries so there is the expected violence but it is generally contained in the opening chapter and not of the extremely graphic nature one frequently finds in other works in this genre.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy PHOENIX, AZ, United States 02-13-12
    Judy PHOENIX, AZ, United States 02-13-12 Member Since 2010
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    4
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    "Good Story, very poor narration"
    What would have made Faceless Killers better?

    I had to constantly adjust volume because Dick Hill's narration would not be clear. Would not purchase a book narrated by him.


    What didn’t you like about Dick Hill’s performance?

    Characterizations were poor and very difficult to understand. Modulation of voice extremely poor.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Regan Seattle, WA, United States 12-30-11
    Regan Seattle, WA, United States 12-30-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Faulty narration mars the story"

    Since stumbling on the extraordinary trilogy by Steig Larsson, I???ve learned that Swedish writers have a long-standing reputation for producing great crime writing and have followed the hordes in tracking down some of these writers. First, of course, came Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, a fabulous writing team from the 1960s and 70s. Now, the hugely popular Henning Mankell and his famous police detective of the 90s, Kurt Wallander.

    Given his enormous popularity I was really looking forward to these books, but I was very disappointed by "Faceless Killers", the first in the series. Many reviewers find it riveting and entertaining, but I found that it dragged. The pace of the action is set over several months and there are many days when Wallander turns up in the office and the sum of the work is ???nothing happened today.??? Later in the book, the reader is taken more smoothly over these stages when there is little development in the case, but Mankell could have handled this more deftly early on. As it is, it causes severe problems with the pacing.

    While Wallander???s character is broadly developed, full of faults and personal crises, it almost feels forced, as if the problematic character is stuck in to fill the gaps while we wait for something to happen in the action of the mystery. The rest of the police investigation team is not well developed and I had trouble keeping most of them straight.

    Some (or perhaps all) of this may be down to the narration. Dick Hill was an inappropriate choice of narrator for this series. Hill approaches the material as if he???s reading Beat poetry rather than a police procedural. All his characterizations sound as if they???re 70-year-old Jewish men whining about parking, rather than young and middle-aged professional cops. The translation from the Swedish is to British English, but Hill reads with a Brooklyn accent incompatible with the language. Hearing distinctly British word choices (strand instead of beach, ???a video??? vs. VCR, first floor vs. second) read straight outta Brooklyn or the mispronunciation of words (pension as ???pen-shun???) is jarring. Speeding up the playback helped with the slowly. Punctuated. Beat. Interpretation. and the worst dragging of the narrative development, but I won???t try another of Mankell???s books read by Hill.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John NJ, United States 10-16-11
    John NJ, United States 10-16-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Ok, but a bit of a downer"

    I kind of like the main character here, he's been knocked down and trying to pull his life together, but do all the characters have to be so depressing? His ex-wife is plain nasty (of course), his daughter was homeless and has mental heath issues, his father is mean and slipping towards alzheimers... It felt like each new character was struggling with a burdensome life... Somewhere people are happy, right? not here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Priscilla D'agostino South Florida 05-19-11
    Priscilla D'agostino South Florida 05-19-11 Member Since 2001

    Prissydag

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    "Keeps you there"

    Kept me listening and that matters. If you like Girl With the Dragon Tatoo you will like this

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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