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Faceless killers : a mystery
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  Library Journal Review

This brilliant U.S. debut is the first book in a Swedish mystery series. An elderly couple is murdered on an isolated farm after being tortured brutally. The woman's last word, "foreign," unleashes an onslaught of antirefugee sentiment that Police Inspector Kurt Wallender tries to quell. Then the cold-blooded murder of a Somali refugee entangles the inspector further as he tries to solve that related crime as well. Meanwhile, he sloshes through the detritus of his own dsyfunctional life, trying to reconnect with his wife, who's left him; his daughter, who refuses to see him; and his father, who is slipping toward senility. The author goes well beyond the narrow police procedural in creating a full-bodied Wallender and in casting light on the refugee problem in contemporary Swedish society. Wallender is reminiscent of Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford in his low-key, thoughtful performance. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

This first Kurt Wallander mystery by Swedish novelist Mankell to appear in the U.S. arrives with the endorsement of Maj Sjowall, coauthor of the classic Swedish crime series starring Martin Beck. Like the Beck novels, Mankell's work mixes compelling procedural details with strong social consciousness. When the brutal, seemingly unprovoked murder of an elderly farm couple in a remote area near Ystad seems linked to foreigners, an ugly wave of racist hate grips the region. Wallander, a middle-aged detective with no shortage of personal problems--broken marriage, troubled daughter, aging father--recognizes that this murder may signal a new era of hate-filled crime in his country and is determined to solve it. Readers will find strains not just of Martin Beck in Wallander's humane, world-weary hero, but also of other, more contemporary European detectives like John Harvey's Charlie Resnick and Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti--Old World cops on the edge of being overwhelmed by the unremitting brutality of New World crime. Melding the bare-knuckles realism of American hard-boiled private eyes to a peculiarly affecting and distinctly European strain of melancholy, these browbeaten, nearly defeated coppers soldier on, losing as they win, winning as they lose. American readers are certain to find Wallander a memorable addition to the growing European chorus of disillusioned crime fighters singing the postmodern blues. A superior novel--and a harbinger of great things to come. --Bill Ott

  Kirkus Review

Who would so savagely kill an elderly farming couple in the Swedish town of Lenarp--the husband gruesomely tortured, the wife slowly strangled with a noose tied in an unusual knot--and then step out to the couple's barn to feed their horse? Inspector Kurt Wallander, battling midlife crisis--his estranged daughter has rarely called him since she lit out from home; his estranged wife greets him by telling him how much weight he's put on--would love to have the leisure to speculate about the identity of the killers, described only by the dying Maria Lövgren as ``foreign.'' As acting chief of the Ystad police, though, he's got more urgent business on his hands: a series of xenophobic phone calls (``You now have three days to make up for shielding foreign criminals. . . . Or else we'll take over'') from somebody who's willing to set fire to a refugee camp barracks and gun down a visiting Somali to show how serious he is. Surprised by the news that Johannes Lövgren was not exactly the colorless chap he appeared, Wallander despairs of finding enough time or energy to kindle a romance with deputy D.A. Anette Brolin, who's married to boot. But how long will it take his plunge into ethnic hatred to give him the answers he needs? Though ``the last thing Kurt Wallander felt like was a laughing policeman,'' fans of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö will feel right at home in this first (1991) of Mankell's five Wallander novels, right down to the laconic paragraphing. Readers who think of Sweden as snow-white are in for a surprise.
Early one morning, a small-town farmer makes the horrible discovery that his neighbors have been brutally attacked during the night. An old man is dead, and his wife lies dying before the farmer's eyes. The only clue is the single word she utters before she dies: "foreign". In charge of the investigation is Inspector Kurt Wallander, a local cop whose personal life is a shambles. His family is falling apart, he's gaining weight, and he's drinking too much, but he is tenacious and level-headed in his sleuthing. Still, things get complicated when he has to deal with an eruption of violent antiforeigner sentiment, as well as a tough-minded - and very attractive - female district attorney, as he searches for the killers.
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