A Look At Henning Mankell’s Faceless Killers

Faceless Killers is now available on the bookstores' shelves as a paperback and this motivated us to write a quick review on the book. We read this book last year after hearing that PBS network was going to air the Faceless Killers as part of their Masterpiece Mystery series. I don't know about you but I always prefer to read a book before seeing it on the screen/TV. Movies often tend to leave imporatnt details and poetic language out and afterwards one feels lazy to go back and read the book (at least in my case).

I was not disappointed: Wow! What a story. This book starts with 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.

This story touches upon a very sensitive issue in the Scandinavian countries: With the rise of the neo-nazi groups and occasional crimes occuring by the immigrants, handling the public sentiment and at the same time solving the crime cases is very difficult for the police forces. Sweden is a small country: Looking at the statistics we notice that in the early 1970s, as an example, there were less that 150 Iranians living in the country. Now, it's more than 150,000 and If I am not mistaken, they are the biggest alien group in the country with several parlimant members. The same goes with the former soviet immigrants, Africans and others.

You can imagine how this big shift might be too much for some middle-aged people in the country and how it might add to the flame of rage by the anti-immigrant groups. Mankell has masterfully written a story of crime in which not only explores the police procedural aspects but also includes such important social elements in the book.

This is a captivating story from the beginning to the end; it is well-written and is another great must-read from the Wallander series. We give it 5 out of 5 stars. Amazon link to the book: Faceless Killers