A lively crowd of eighteen gathered for October's Whodunit Book Club meeting and we were all pleased to welcome a couple of new members, Holly and Marian.
Pam posed the questions: "What did you think of last month's meeting with guest author Pamela Callow?" and "What is on your 'to read' list right now that you are excited about?"
The general consensus was that everyone greatly enjoyed Pamela Callow's visit to club.
We enjoyed her gracious and accommodating attitude and appreciated hearing a little first hand knowledge about book publishing from an author who is experiencing the process for the first time.
Many reading suggestions were garnered from listening to members share what their next read would be.
This months book for discussion was Henning Mankell's first Kurt Wallander mystery, "Faceless Killers".
Henning Mankell became interested in writing at an early age and is a prolific author who has written plays, novels, and even children's books. He is an award winner. His novel "Sidetracked" won the Gold Daggar in 2001. He has sold 35 million copies of his works and those works have been translated into 41 languages! In 2008 Mankell was the 9th best-selling author in the world!
Mankell divides his time between Moçambique and Sweden and he has commented that he has one foot in the snow and one foot in the sand.
Interesting to note was that he chose the name Wallander for his detective by getting his name out of the phone book.
Wallander is a bizarre sort of anti-hero. Mankell confesses that he is not sure that Wallander and he would be friends in real life as he doesn't like him very much.
Described by the Whodunit members as pathetic, solitary, forgetful, dysfunctional, disorganized, irresponsible, sorry for himself and too dependent on alcohol, it is no wonder that Mankell feels this way.
The novel "Faceless Killers" had a chilling beginning. The Swedish winter weather was cold and bleak and the horrific crime was disturbing. In Faceless Killers, an elderly couple are murdered on an isolated farm after being brutally tortured and the woman's final word 'foreign' unleashed a ferociously anti-refugee sentiment in Ystad. Most members enjoyed the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the novel. The victims had an interesting double-life and the references to the noose that were scattered throughout the novel intrigued the readers. However, many were disappointed in the ending and felt cheated. The noose references turned out to be 'red herrings' and the solution to the crime seems almost an appendix to the story rather that a true conclusion due to the fact that the author revealed crucial information only at the last minute... The crime was motivated by greed and was perpetrated by criminals with sociopathic tendencies.
It was noted that the novel seemed almost farcical at times. The Swedish police force seemed to have myriad outstanding resources at their disposal, but the workforce seemed provincial in their behaviour.
I came away from the meeting not really knowing if the members would continue reading other books in the series. Sometimes the first novel of a series is not the author's best work, and there must be a reason why Mankell has sold 35 million copies...
I very much enjoyed the PBS Mystery rendition of "Faceless Killers". In fact I think I enjoyed it much more than the book and discovered that others agreed. Wallander was expertly portrayed by Kenneth Branagh. Anyone who has not yet seen the Wallander mysteries on PBS are in for a treat. Kenneth Branagh a self-confessed voracious reader, had just finished reading nine Mankell titles when he met Mankell in a bathroom at a reception honouring Ingmar Bergman, Henning's late father-in-law.
Click here for a link to a Sunday Times article on Henning Mankell's thoughts on Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of Wallander.
Also, here is a link describing Branagh's win of the 2010 BAFTA for Leading Actor for his portrayal of Wallander.
There were six book giveaways this month. The lucky winners were:
Regis, Marian, Camilla, Tracy, Marilyn and Marlene.