Faceless Killers (Kurt Wallander Book One)
First Published: February 1991 (In Swedish)
It was a senselessly violent crime: on a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. And as if this didn't present enough problems for the Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman's last word is "foreign", leaving the police the one tangible clue they have-and in the process, the match that could inflame Sweden's already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.
Unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the beautiful but married young prosecuter who has peaked his interest, in this case, Wallander finds a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes, but soon comes to realize that it will require all his reserves of energy and dedication to solve.
I came into this book knowing little of Henning Mankell's work and even less about the character of Wallander. All I knew was that the series was so popular there has been a TV show about it.
You are thrown in at the deep end as soon as you start this book, the murder is discovered in the first 8 pages and the action doesn't really stop from then. While it is a similar format to a lot of other crime novels, you have the difference in that the story is relevant to political policies of the time. It was hard at some points to get an idea of the time frame as there is a bit talk about the Cold War ending and how people are enjoying their new found freedoms.
Wallander is a complex character, as are many detectives and I don't really know why, there has to be a normal detective out there somewhere. He is dealing with a recent divorce, a father who is losing his mind and a daughter that just goes and does whatever she wants without letting him know where she is or who she is with. I think this makes the character even better, he finds the time to try and sort out all the problems in his life while solving the murders.
I enjoyed the writing style and the novel seemed to be quite quick paced up until the end, towards the end it seemed to slow right down and I feel that the story was hastly put together so that there would be no lose ends. I didn't like this and felt almost cheated as I'd read the rest of the story I'd hoped the ending would be a little more filling to me.
I'm going to read more of this series and I may also watch the TV show on Netflix. I enjoyed it but for me the ending was a disappointment.