An elderly couple is murdered in Lunnarp, a small village in the south of Sweden. The crime is gruesome, filled with unwarranted violence and smells of hate and revenge. Inspector Kurt Wallander is investigating the case and the only clue is a single word uttered by the dying woman. While Wallander chases every lead that runs into ground, he is also fighting his own demons – a broken marriage, a teenage daughter who has become a stranger and a hostile father on the verge of senility.
I discovered Mankell through the introduction he has written to Roseanna from Sjowall and Wahloo‘s Martin Beck Series. Since then I have been a fan of Kurt Wallander. Faceless Killers, the first book of the series is set in 1990, fifteen years after the last book of Martin Beck series and the thing that you notice immediately is the change in the Swedish society over the three decades. Martin Beck series is set in Stockholm during 1965-1975 and by the nineties the old fashioned crime became more convoluted and meaningless and spread its tentacles even in remote parts of Sweden previously considered safe. Like Sjowall and Wahloo, Mankell also highlights how political and social problems twist the psyche of the populace and become an important factor that brings out worst in some people and drives crime.
The influence of Martin Beck series can be clearly seen in Faceless Killers, but I found it bit rough around the edges. Wallander’s character is well developed and though I did not actually sympathise with him always for going downhill in his personal life, nevertheless he is a conscious policeman with good instincts and prepared to follow his hunches. However the other members of the police force are not as memorable as the motley crew from Martin Beck series. But I know that the Wallander series keeps getting better and better with every new book.
The original crime has repercussions and leads to another murder. Wallander has two separate set of murders on his hand now and he solves them by using old fashioned police procedures; following every clue to its logical end and leaving no stone unturned. In the end he is rewarded for pursuing his gut feeling at crucial moments.
I like the way Scandinavian authors use the extreme weather to portray the mood and the atmosphere in their books and Mankell has also done a fine job of using the Scanian winter to describe Wallander’s swinging moods.
If you like police procedure novels that trudge along slowly but definitely like a sure footed mare, then you will want to read this book for sure.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.
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