"Faceless Killers" is the first of 11 novels, written in Swedish and translated into English, to feature Detective Kurt Wallander. To clarify without overcomplicating, this is a detective book, not a mystery book.
While the action occurs against the backdrop of a baffling double homicide of an elderly farming couple in southern Sweden’s Skåne County, it is much more than the telling of action surrounding an investigation. As to be expected, there are interesting and unassuming suspects and several dead-end leads.
The pace at which the story unfolds is relaxed, borderline slow--instead of filling the pages with nail-biting, stomach-tensing mystery and deceit (although there is some of that) Mankell takes time to develop his protagonist. At times the read is reminiscent of a BBC detective show (i.e. Inspector Lewis or Inspector Morse).
Readers are presented with an occasion in which to acquaint themselves with Wallander, whose career has taken precedence over his personal relationships (a common theme in detective stories). He is a mostly likable character with tendencies to let his loneliness turn pathetic in low moments.
The decisions of his wife to leave him, his daughter to run away from him, and his father to detest him all play a major role in the character development. His reactions to each of these relationships assist his compulsion to spend every waking hour confused about where he went wrong in both his personal life and his investigation of the murders.
This easy-going read is good for a week (or weekend) on the beach. It is also easy to pick up and put down, so if things get hectic over the summer don’t worry about having to neglect your plans to get to the end of this one.