A Reader’s Notes on: “Faceless Killers” by Henning Mankell

Over the years at ClimbingSky and MontanaWriter, I have written about a number of books, and scores of poems. I have called them “book reviews”and “poetry reviews” but in most cases they are not really reviews at all in the classic sense. They are really just notes and impressions about books and poems and writers. Reader’s Notes if you will.

One of my goals for ClimbingSky is to include more such notes here. For books I finish and even for the many, many more that I read for awhile and then abandon. 

Faceless KillersFaceless Killers
by Henning Mankell

The police procedural is a sub-genre of Mystery Fiction that I have tended to avoid over the years. While I have read some that I like very much (Ed McBain‘s “87th Precinct” books come instantly to mind), most I have sooner or later abandoned. I think my impatience with detail gets the better of me.

I have been thinking for years of reading Mankell’s Wallander series but since they are usually classified as “police procedurals” I have avoided doing so.

Place in some fiction is a central character. In Westerns, for example, or at least the Westerns I love best, place is the most important character.

In Faceless Killers, it is the Skåne area of Sweden that quickly becomes the most important “character.” At least for me. It is what kept me reading the book when police procedural detail and Wallander’s personal life detail got in the way.

Details about character, their “background stories,” always makes me impatient as a reader. If the writer is good and does his or her job correctly, a reader should be able to infer or intuit everything they need to know about a character from what that character does, says, or thinks. Don’t tell me, writer, show me!


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