Martin Beck

Apparently the great popularity of Stieg Larsson’s novels have triggered a new interest in Swedish mystery authors. I’d like to plug the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. It’s ten books written in the 60s and 70s.

Actually, other than being Swedish, they are entirely different from Larsson’s novels. Larsson reads like an intelligent Dan Brown with real characterization. The Beck novels are police procedurals, telling the story of solving a crime from the perspective of a policeman, Martin Beck. The novels were also intended to be an examination of Swedish society, which sounds daunting but is quite effective in practice.

The Beck novels have some extremely funny scenes, scenes which are made all the funnier by the fact that nobody in the story considers the amusing at all, and indeed they would not be funny if you were involved in them in real life. For example, the police breaking into what turns out to be a completely empty room in The Terrorists (Terroristerna), resulting through a series of completely plausible mishaps in several shootings and near fatalities.

Henning Mankell, a popular current Swedish mystery writer, is clearly strongly influenced by Sjöwall and Wahlöö. Many of Mankell’s novels are quite good, but I prefer the earlier ones.

1 Comment »

  1. mdoar said,

    June 22, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

    I agree, good stuff.

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