Inside an almost isolated Skåne farmhouse in Lunnarp, an old man, Johannes Lövgren is tortured to death and his wife Maria savagely beaten and left for dead with a noose around her neck. Inspector Kurt Wallander, a forty-two-year-old Ystad police detective, and his team – Rydberg, an aging detective with a rheumatism; Martinsson, a 29-year-old rookie; Naslund, a thirty-year veteran; Svedberg, a balding, forty-something-year-old detective; Hansson; and Peters – are put on the case. Maria Lovgren is taken to a hospital, but dies anyway. Her last word: "foreign".
Rydberg has been examining the noose around Mrs Lovgren's neck and "has never seen one like it before". He thinks that Mrs Lovgren's last word is accurate, and that the murderers are foreign. But his conclusion leads to several racially-motivated attacks after the information is leaked to the press.
Faceless Killers has also been adapted into a 90-minute television episode for the BBC's Wallander series starring Kenneth Branagh as Wallander. It was first broadcast on 3 January 2010. Fredrik Gunnarsson, who played Svartman in the Swedish TV series, had a cameo in this episode.
The novel has also been broadcast on BBC Radio 7, read by the English actor David Warner, who plays Wallander's father in the British television adaptation of Wallander.