Review: Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell
Discovering a new favourite author is a wonderful thing. Especially when it’s one with a huge back catalogue. But it can’t be forced – these relationships need to be naturally formed. As a reader you need to trust the author to take your newly loved characters in an exciting direction whilst savouring the unpredictability of a series.
When an author has sold over 35 million copies worldwide it can be quite intimidating but worthy of investigation. I decided to start at the beginning and see what all this Wallander fuss was about. I could not hold my head up and proclaim myself a fan of crime fiction when I hadn’t dabbled my toes in the Wallander phenomenon.
In Faceless Killers we meet Inspector Kurt Wallander of the Ystad Police Department for the first time. One frozen January morning at 5am, Inspector Wallander responds to what he believes is a routine call out. When he reaches the isolated farmhouse he discovers a bloodbath.
An old man has been tortured and beaten to death, his wife lies barely alive beside his shattered body, both victims of a violence beyond reason. The woman supplies Wallander with his only clue: the perpetrators may have been foreign. When this is leaked to the press, it unleashes a tide of racism.
The small police force at Ystad have to rely on sketchy leads, a lack of evidence and what I think will become Wallander’s amazing gut instinct to try and solve the crime. Wallander is a fantastic anti-hero, pessimistic, divorced, a lover of Opera and whisky with a belligerent father and an AWOL daughter. Teamed up with Veteran Detective Rydberg, they slowly but surely work towards catching the killers, while drinking an awful lot of coffee!
First published in 1990, it has hardly dated – Wallander’s thoughts on the onset of a new era in policing and the changes approaching in Sweden ring eerily true with the benefit of hindsight. I for one am sold. My love affair with the opera loving, coffee drinking Detective has begun and I look forward to starting book two, The Dogs of Riga. The next step for me? Deciding which screen Wallander is my favourite!
Do you love Wallander? Do you have a favourite book in the series? What recommendations for fantastic crime fiction do you have? Let us know in the comments below.