20 May 2014

Faceless Killers, by Henning Mankel

An audio book.

One of the Kurt Wallander series of detective novels. Translated from Swedish.

I think I've noted before that I suspect translation hurts these novels a little. Wallander's life is so depressing that it starts to rub off when I read one of these. As a commuter's boredom relief it was okay. I wonder about the structure.

Real police work is probably something like what is related here. False leads, loose ends, periods of time during which nothing happens. Whether this makes good crime fiction is debatable. Perhaps Mankel is more interested in simply writing a novel about a character who experiences a great deal of adversity in his life, and how he deals with it.

This story begins with a gruesome and violent murder of an elderly couple in a remote farmhouse. As the plot progresses, we learn that the husband's life was a little more complicated than his neighbors thought. There is a clue that the perpetrators may have been "foreign." This leads to some public reaction to the large numbers of refugees living in the area. Hate crimes are committed.

As the plot progresses, Wallander's life is complicated by his father's dementia, which is beginning to get out of hand. As acting police chief during a time when more than one horrible crime has been committed, he is ill prepared to deal with this situation.

One of the issues that was never resolved to my satisfaction is the brutality of the murder, including the use of a certain eclectic knot in a cord used to strangle one of the victims. Why Mankel imagined the murder in this way, and added that detail, as well as others, is not clear to me. This is one area where I expect something did not come through the translation process -- or it may simply be my own sloppy reading.

No comments: