REVIEW: Faceless Killers

How about a little bit of Scandi Noir? This is one of my favourite genres. The dark nights, the bitterly cold winters and the landscape of Scandinavia just adds a certain something to a decent crime novel. Well, I think so anyway.

Having read Arnaldur Indridason’s Strange Shores recently, I was in the mood for some more and so I decided to start Henning Mankell’s Inspector Kurt Wallander series from the beginning, rather than picking up a book midway through the series which is what I usually end up doing!

We are in Sweden for this series and Wallander’s life is in a mess. His wife has left him, his daughter barely speaks to him, he eats and sleeps badly and drinks too much. Even his father, who has started suffering from dementia, can hardly put up with the sight of him.

An elderly couple are bludgeoned in their farmhouse home. The husband has been beaten to death and the wife is barely alive. The level of violence inflicted on the couple surprises even the hardened murder squad.

The wife is very seriously injured but does tell police the perpetrators may have been foreign. This is leaked to the press and a wave of racism – particularly against a nearby refugee camp – ensues.

Wallander needs to figure out what is going on before people start taking retribution on the refugees.

This is a real page turner and there are twists and turns all the way through. None of the players, not even the victims, are quite what they seem and Wallander has to wade through the confusion to try and find an answer.

I really like protagonists who are faulty in some way because, let’s face it, no one is perfect. Wallander is definitely faulty. But the interactions between him and his fractured family are brilliant and add another depth to the book.

The plot is clever and the tide of racism which sweeps the area after the attack is, sadly, very believable.

I know all these books are stand alone and can be read in any order but I’m glad that, for a change, I started with the first one. I am looking forward to reading more.

Obviously I could just watch the series but we book lovers know that’s not the right order to do things – book first, dramatization of said book afterwards.

This book was written in 1991 and first published in English in 2000. Mankell is prolific. There are 13 books in the Wallander series, another five crime novels, 15 other novels, and eight children’s books. That’s going to take quite some getting through.

If Scandi Noir is your bag, you will love this book. I certainly did.

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