Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Books: Faceless Killer by Henning Menkell

Resource here: Faceless Killers: A Mystery (Kurt Wallander Mystery Book 1)

Henning Mankell in Bethlehem
Henning Mankell in Bethlehem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The New York Times is all about the migrant crisis in Germany right now. Families seeking asylum from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are fleeing war and poverty. Germany is struggling with the question of what is humane and possible. While it is big news it is not new news. Books like the mystery written back in 1991 by Swedish author Henning Mankell called Faceless Killers tells about the beginning of the refugee problem in Sweden.

The Faceless Killers was the first of the best seller Wallander series and a blockbuster TV series of the same name featured on Netflix. I am a great fan and have watched all of the episodes that were filmed both by the British and in Sweden. Now I have begun reading the books. I finished the first book this morning.

Reading Faceless Killers against the backdrop of the news events made it take on a meaning I was not looking for. The story is set in Ystad, Sweden located on the Baltic Sea. Denmark is to the west and Latvia is across the sea to the east. Migrant camps are set up in the country for emigrants from every direction and at that time there was no supervision that was evident for tracking people applying for asylum. The problem is central to the murder mystery within which our character Kurt Wallender finds himself tangled. 

The murder was grisly and to make it worse it is leaked that the guilty may lie among the "foreigners" that live in refugee camps. Like many places around the world, the people of color are hated for reasons only those haters know. So the mystery takes on two facets beautifully entwined by Menkell's storytelling skills. We have the murder of an elderly couple and a witch hunt by locals for foreigners.

Best of all the book teaches a lesson about the way the fugitive crisis changed the culture of a country. The problem has not decreased since the book was written back in 1991. Mystery stories that resound so effectively in our current world are wonderful. 

I loved the way the book was written. It set a stage that let the reader feel the passing of time and how difficult it is to REALLY find the answers to the questions. There was no hocus pocus here and I loved that I did not need the "willing suspension of reality" that is required in so many books of this type. There were no holes in the story line.



  1. Great review, and very timely as well considering what is big in the news these days. This sounds like something I'd enjoy, so I appreciate the recommendation. Thank you for sharing!

    1. You are so welcome Laurel. It is a shame not to share those really good books. Thank you for stopping by.


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