by Henning Mankell
A brutal attack on a farmer and his wife in early January 1990, calls Detective Kurt Wallander from his bed with too little sleep.
The viciously beaten farmer is dead, but his wife lingers in a coma. Before she dies, she whispers to the policeman on duty, “Foreigners. Foreigners.”
Just 20 kilometers from the farm is a large refugee camp that had already been the object of attacks from Swedes frustrated by the lack of a national policy and control of the growing numbers of asylum seekers penetrating Sweden’s borders.
The violence of the crime — almost unheard of in Sweden — is to Wallander one more sign that life is changing. And not for the better. His wife left him three months earlier, and sent him divorce papers three days before Christmas. He can’t sleep. His daughter, who survived a suicide attempt, is estranged from him. His father, who has spent a lifetime painting and selling virtually the same landscape, is drifting into senility.
The deaths of Johannes and Maria Lövgren seem unsolvable. Then, Maria Lövgren’s brother, Lars Herdin, walks into the police station with a tale about vast sums of money that Johannes and his father earned during World War II helping the Nazis; a secret mistress and son; and regular withdrawals of large sums of money for her and the child.
This is a bleak police procedural. Life, family, the media, community politics and inter-agency conflicts intrude at every step. Despite its age (the book was published in 1991), the issues that run through this book — bad immigration policies, the influx of refugees, rising levels of violence — are as fresh as this morning’s headlines. While the story is a good stage for highlighting social problems, author Henning Mankell turns preachy at the expense of his story at times.
- THE DOGS OF RIGA (2001)
- THE WHITE LIONESS (1998)
- THE MAN WHO SMILED (2005)
- SIDETRACKED (1991), which won a Gold Dagger Award from the Crime Writers’ Association in 2001.
- THE FIFTH WOMAN (2000)
- ONE STEP BEHIND (2002)
- FIREWALL (2002)
- AN EVENT IN AUTUMN (2014), a novella.
- THE TROUBLED MAN (2011).
FACELESS KILLERS won the Glass Key Award for best Nordic Crime Novel in 1992.
This novel has many admirable qualities, but it really puts the black in noir. You may be ready to slit your wrists before you get to the end of the story.