Saturday, April 10, 2010

Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

I'm surprised to see that three months have gone by since I last posted here. I've certainly read a lot of books during that time but I guess not much seemed memorable enough to write about.

At any rate, I have been on a quest for more good thriller/mystery novels since finishing the Stieg Larsson "Milennium" series. This is another Swedish writer whom I had heard good things about, so I thought I'd pick up the first book in Mankell's series about detective Kurt Wallander.

I enjoyed the book - it followed the crime fiction template without being too formulaic, and Wallander is a typical (though not boring) lonely police detective with a messed-up personal life and a tendency to workaholism. He's like a Swedish Inspector Alan Banks (of Peter Robinson's series), right down to his passion for music.

Faceless Killers concentrates on the hunt for the murderer of an elderly couple in their remote farmhouse. The story has overtones of racial tension as the backdrop of the story is a Sweden that is rapidly changing due to an influx of refugee claimants. Not all the locals are very happy about this, some of them even resorting to violence in an effort to drive out the migrants. Meanwhile, Wallander uncovers some disturbing evidence about the secret life of one of the murder victims, and tries to come to terms with the failure of his marriage, his troubled relationship with his daughter and his aging father's mental health difficulties.

There was a lot going on in this book that could lay the groundwork for some meaty future stories, so I'm looking forward to reading more of these books. I do have a ridiculously large pile of novels checked out from the library right now, though, so it could be a while before I get back to Kurt Wallander.

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