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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.

Critic Reviews

"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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  • Overall
  • Joanna
  • SCOTTSDALE, AZ, United States
  • 09-03-10

A new favorite detective series!

After listening to a more current Kurt Wallander mystery, I bought this with the intent to start this series from the beginning. I have been going through "Harry Bosch withdrawl" and Wallander has become a great addition as a very enjoyable detective series for me. I find Wallender different from Bosch; he is a little easier to relate to as a real person with real life issues and daily problems. He does not solve this crime brilliantly, but rather with hard work, capable help from his colleagues (which added even more interesting characters to get to know,) trial and error, but, of course, with a true talent as a detective.

The mystery was great, and had no "first book" feel to it. Some writers truly evolve in their writing skills, to the point that the earlier books are not as well written as the later ones, but none of that here. Menkell started with a bang! The plot was complex, interesting, and suspenseful. I really wanted to keep listening to it, even when I had to turn it off.

Unlike many detective mysteries, where the reader is introduced to potential killers in some fashion before the end of the book, Menkell kept us as much in the dark as to the killer(s)' identitiy as Wallander, which gave me the feeling that I was working right along with Wallander as to what to do next, and really brought me into the story.

I like Dick Hill, and I enjoyed him here. I prefer a narrator who puts some drama into the reading of a book, yet I did not think he went over the top. I found him very easy to listen to, and to also keep the voices of the characters distinct from one another. All-in-all it was very enjoyable, authentic, and I definitely plan to read more of the Wallander series.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Something About Swedish Fiction

Maybe it is the long winters, but there is nothing "uplifting" about any of the Swedish authors I have listened to. However, what they all have in common is a brutal reality. There are no super heros or fancy CSI solutions. Crime is solved by grinding it out and a little luck. In other words, it is real.

If you aare looking for fast paced drama or on-the-edge-of-your seat suspense, you are not going to like the Henning Mankell series offered at audible. However, if you like great character development and first rate writing, give them a try. The understated reading by Dick Hill is also perfect for the characters.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Enjoyed my first Henning Mankell mystery

This series was recommended by my stepmother, a big mystery fan who never steers me wrong. I found the mystery intelligent and well told, the story brought up many contemporary topics in a way a more serious novel would do. That aspect of the book is certainly one of the best things about it. THe narrator was good, not great, but his accents were convincing and his reading pace very nice. The characters were believable and the things that take place seem likely and convincing, while the author allows us to see what he thinks about many contemporary problems in Swedish society while constructing a good mystery. Intelligent and thoughtful, I enjoyed it and will definitely listen to more of this author's work.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Edgar
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 02-28-15

Excellent novel ruined by narration

Any additional comments?

This is an excellent novel in one of the best crime series. I've read or listened to most of the Wallander books and was surprised to find Faceless Killers to be the first in the series -- the character is already fully formed, setting the stage for the novels that follow. My problem with the audiobook is the narration. I usually like Dick Hill and have enjoyed many of his other books (notably Lee Child's Reacher series), but he is simply not suited to this one. I wanted to listen to a Mankel/Wallander novel, not a Dick Hill novel.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

great writing good listen

This book was well written so listening to it was so enjoyable. It was not a fast-paced book but the writing and time taken to develop the characters made the book a good listen. No problem with the narrator.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kellee
  • Comer, GA, USA
  • 04-19-09


I've already listened to it twice and I just got it last week. Full of interesting little details and a great main character. Wonderful quirky narration. I appreciate that the crime investigation meanders a bit. The imagery of the Swedish countryside was beautiful. I'm planning on listening to all this author's books.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Marie
  • Tallahassee, FL, United States
  • 03-01-10

Good cold listen for a hot, steamy afternoon

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Melissa
  • Pleasanton, CA, United States
  • 10-23-12

A Look Into Realistic Police Work

Where does Faceless Killers rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Even though it's fiction, it feels like real life. I love the drama and supernatural twists and turns in other books, for example those written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. In contrast, Faceless Killer, seems mundane, quiet, and methodical. It kept my interest though because it was plausible, and I liked the main character, Kurt Wallander. Most of police work is boring and detailed. Most inquiries lead to dead ends...but its impossible to know when one will lead to a break in the case. Therefore all leads have to be followed up and this is exactly how Wallander and his team face solving a horrifying double murder of a helpless, elderly couple.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I'll read the second book in the series now. Kurt Wallander appeals to my female instincts. I see that he cares deeply about his family and his work, but is unable to put his work aside long enough to hold his relationships together. He is a jerk sometimes and he knows it. He drinks too much and eats all the wrong foods. He is consumed by his job, but the people he works closely with he keeps as much at arm's length as he did his wife before she left him.He's a mess...but an appealing mess.As far as solving the crime goes...I like the detail offered. I felt like I was looking at the evidence and following the leads along with Wallander and his staff. I hate when I read a book and try to solve the case, only to find out in the end that I couldn't have figured out who the killer was because I wasn't given all the information required to solve the case. This writer gives the reader all the information that the detectives receive. There are no red herrings as I think they are called.

Which scene was your favorite?

I enjoyed the end when he was closing in on the cold blooded killers of course. But I liked the visits he made with his retired friend who was dying with cancer best. He respected his friends input and gave his friend a chance to help with the case. His friends last days had meaning. He was still a part of the team. He was still needed. The best gift we can give to a friend who is out of commission because of circumstances or health.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Faceless Killers (Unabridged)

Plot is really good...but the narration is limited at best, especially the main character Kurt Wallander

2 of 2 people found this review helpful