Book Forty-Nine: Roseanna

Another Martin Beck police mystery. This one is apparently the first in the series, so it filled in some background for me, and made me curious about reading the rest. Apparently there are 10 volumes in all, collectively called The Story of a Crime, and it sounds like they are quite popular in Sweden and in other corners of the world as well.

I can see why. They use interesting detective work and sudden leaps of logic which often turn out to be right. Beck seems to have an instinct for people, and a skill both at working with fellow policemen and with criminals. I also think it’s interesting that like Montalbano, another European detective, Beck resists and loathes the thought of promotion. He also lives a bit of a dog’s life, hounded (ha ha) by his wife and children, and preferring to focus on his police work above all else.

I did a bit of poking around on the authors, and found out that they are a husband and wife team who write alternating chapters. That explains the sometimes very different moods in the chapters; these differences are probably more marked in the original Swedish. I’ve always wanted to learn Swedish, maybe I have an excuse at last. Apparently the books were meant to illustrate the fact that Sweden does, in fact, have crime, and the authors intended the series to be a criticism of capitalism. I haven’t quite gotten that out of them yet, but to be fair I’ve only read two of the 10, and the series may develop slowly, much like the books themselves.

Both of the books I’ve read have had rather chilling and shocking plots, and I like that. No mucking about with run of the mill stuff here; the authors plunged right into pedophilia and sex maniacs.  I’m definitely going to order some of the others from the library so that I can gorge myself.


Roseanna, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.  Translated from the Swedish by Lois Roth. Published 1965, 212 pages. Fiction.