Wallander’s Faceless Killers

April 26, 2012

With the Martin Beck series all packed up and sent off to various friends, it was time for a new round of Swedish detective stories. I had already fed my wife several Wallander books by Henning Mankell, but I didn’t want her to finish the entire series before I got started so I recently opened up the first book, Faceless Killers.

The most noteworthy thing about this book is that the protagonist, Kurt Wallander, is such a mess. His wife is intent on divorcing him, his only child keeps her distance and rarely sees him, and even his body seems to be deserting him through overeating, heavy drinking, and lack of exercise. The one person who has known him longest, his nearly senile elderly father, seems to hate his guts for unspecified reasons. And, even though Wallander has spent his entire life in Sweden, he can’t tolerate a little snow.

If only something good would come his way.

Unfortunately, “something good” doesn’t seem very likely.

Wallander can’t solve the brutal crime that lies at the heart of the book. For this you need clues and Wallander doesn’t seem to have any.

Turning to the problem of his love life, Wallander becomes infatuated with the new prosecutor. He is strangely unfazed by the fact that she is in town on a temporary assignment, married, and the mother of two children. Even after his first drunken “pass” at her nearly turns into a sexual assault, he seems unfazed. He sends her a bouquet of flowers to make amends.

And somehow everything works itself out.

The crime gets solved (this part is very interesting – read the book). His sister intervenes to help with his father. Wallander goes on vacation and loses a few kilos. He cuts back on his alcohol intake, and wonder of wonders, even spends a night with the prosecutor! It all seems rather improbable, but who knows? Maybe book #2 will tell us that it no longer snows in Sweden.

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2 Responses to “Wallander’s Faceless Killers”

  1. […] though I had already started reading Henning Mankell’s Wallander series, and I had planned to plow through them in order, family politics required a change of […]

  2. […] Martin Beck before him, it takes Kurt Wallander just two books before he is required to travel abroad to solve a murder. Unlike Beck, who could […]

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