Book Fifty-Seven: The Man Who Went Up in Smoke

I had a plan today to sleep in, until the princely hour of nine, or perhaps even ten. And then I was going to lie in bed and read, since the weather is grey, and bed is warm. I even stashed an extra book by the bed last night, anticipating this eventuality, and this may have been my fatal hubris, for at seven this morning, I was woken, yet again, but yet another obnoxiously loud neighbor, and although I thrashed with impotent rage in the sheets for some time, it was clear that sleeping in was simply not going to be an option, let alone lounging in bed and reading, so I stalked to the living room and tore through this book with an emotion which I can only describe as rage.

Which may have colored my reading of it a bit, although, overall, I thought it was good. I think I mentioned that I am reading the Story of a Crime series, and this is one of them. The interesting thing about the series is that although each book stands alone, the books also collectively have a story arc, and it is this story arc that I am most interested in, the slow shift of life in Sweden and policework.

This book was about a mysteriously missing person who turned out to be part of a drug ring, but also part of a love triangle, and it was delightfully complex. I like that the missing person isn’t a particularly nice person, and in some sense could perhaps better be left missing, yet the police are obligated to look for him anyway, because that is their job.

I also love the ending of the book, when Inspector Beck finally comes home to his wife and failing marriage, and she says “How are you, really?” and he says “Not well,” and that’s the end. I think I’m really growing to enjoy the Swedish mind.


The Man Who Went Up in Smoke, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.  Translated from the Swedish by Joan Tate. Published 1969, 183 pages. Fiction.