Book Forty-Seven: The Man on the Balcony

I picked this up on a whim at the library this morning, when I ventured out during a brief break in the grim, grey weather. I was in the mood for yet another detective novel (I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I read rather a lot of them), and I tend to like Swedish literature. There’s something very clear and elegant about it, when translated well, that fit with my mood today.

At any rate, apparently this was one of a series, which didn’t really impede my enjoyment, although the references to other cases were sometimes confusing. It’s also interesting that it was written by two people, which always seems a bit odd to me. How do two authors work together? Alternating chapters? Writing for specific characters? I can never figure it out.

Parts of this book read almost like a deposition, which sounds horribly dull, but actually isn’t. In fact, I rather enjoyed myself. The book dealt with a troubling mystery, and the deposition-style provided a number of absolutely excellent false herrings, so I found myself making all sorts of suppositions and assumptions which turned out to be totally wrong.

I really liked that one of the characters has an eidetic memory, which seems like it would be terribly useful in detective work. I like to read about people with interesting mental quirks, I guess. Or something. At any rate, the book tripped right along, moving smoothly through an assortment of scenes and events and keeping me on my toes, as a reader. I may pick up a few more from this series, since I enjoyed this one so much.


The Man on the Balcony, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. Translated from the Swedish by Alain Blair. Published 1967, 180 pages. Fiction.