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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 1998
"The Abomidable Man" is one of the better entries in the ten "Martin Beck" mysteries by the husband-and-wife team of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. It features the unforgettable characters of Martin Beck, Leonard Kollberg, and their colleagues at the newly nationalized Swedish Police Force as a particularly brutal murder of a police officer in a hospital is investigated. With few clues, Beck and his colleagues eventually solve the case, but are overtaken by events in the sort of bleak existential denouement that characterizes this unmatched series of crime stories. The authors use the police procedural as a prism through which to look at society, and their liberal outlook seems innocent and quaint given the passage of time. Search your local used bookstores and garage sales for any entries in this series (not too uncommon in paperback) and let's hope that Black Lizard rereleases the whole series. NOTE: This book was made into an outstanding Swedis! ! h film called "The Man on the Roof", available on video at certain outlets.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2010
This 7th Martin Beck Mystery was made into a film in Sweden in 1976 titled "Mannen pa taket" (The Man on the Roof). After reading the book, it is easy to imagine what that film must look like; because the last full 65 or so pages of "The Abominable Man" are some of the best visual-action writing I've ever read. The book really puts you right there for a very extended, visually complex, inner-city Stockholm, gunman-on-the-roof, lone-madman vs. hundreds standoff.

"The Abominable Man" was released in 1971 in Sweden, the same year as the film "Dirty Harry" in the U.S.; and the book's extended climax scene definitely has some of that same feel. This pure-action, cinematic second half is what distinguishes this book from others in the series (I wonder if Sjowall & Wahloo had seen "Dirty Harry" before writing the second half of the book). Expert writing nonetheless.

The book's first 150 or so pages are more familiar territory for the series; both in the tight plotting and the underlying themes. In this case the writers are looking at police brutality; and its' prevailing systemic coverup from bottom to top; as yet another example of governmental/societal breakdown in Sweden. The case presented and its' backstory have interesting aspects of complexity, and are not dated in the least bit; nor unique to Sweden for that matter.

The character portraits presented by the writers are very realistic and not over-simplified. As the case unfolds, our hero Martin Beck is plagued increasingly by a sense of dread and responsibility. Beck really shines in this book; both as the backbone of conscience of the series, and as a "man of action."

The "abominable man" of the book's title refers not to the gunman on the roof; but instead to the man who essentially put him up there... Good book. Recommended.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2002
The sixth Martin Beck novel. The crime this time around is the brutal murder of a decorated police officer in his hospital bed. Beck (now divorced from his shrewish wife) and his partner Kollberg, are on the case again.
This is the best novel in the series, masterfully interweaving the virtues of Beck's patient, methodical style of detection with a damning indictment of the pointless brutality and general incompetence of modern law enforcement. The point of the book, made in a variety of ways, is that law enforcement needs better cops, not bigger guns. Excellent as both a crime thriller and social commentary.
And don't miss the cliffhanger ending.
Unfortunately, it's out of print, and hard to find. Beg, borrow, or steal a copy, and read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 4, 2010
A seriously ill man is butchered in his hospital bed. He turns out to be Chief Inspector Nyman, a cop notorious for being tough on criminals, drunks, troublemakers and ordinary citizens he mistakes for any of the above.

Sjöwall and Wahlöö, who pioneered the weaving of social critique into crime fiction, are concentrating on police brutality in this book.

The story presents us with every kind of policeman. Mild mannered Martin Beck, who rarely carries his gun. His best friend Kollberg, who goes unarmed on principle. Gunvald Larsson, a well-armed, bad-tempered, good-hearted man of action. And Nyman and his cronies, who regularly abuse their power and cover for each other.

The novel first appeared in 1971, when people were still playing records and winding clocks, and peaceful demonstrations didn't always end peacefully. Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö give us an interesting picture of Sweden in this era.

The plot of The Abominable Man is fairly simple, and the political message blatant, but for all this I found a book quite satisfying. There's a very funny scene with Nyman's doctor - and the denouement is non-stop exciting. Overall, the book fits beautifully into the flow of the series.

I advocate reading all the Martin Beck mysteries in order, which is what I'm doing. Many of the conventions of crime fiction have their roots in this seminal series. Sjöwall and Wahlöö forever changed the genre with their wit, depth and style.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2011
The book's themes are as relevant today as they were when written. Sadly, our societies have not learned so much from the lessons spelled out here - as we see so frequently in the news. Innocents dies at the hands of police officers, tarnishing the whole force, undermining the public's trust and respect for professional men and woman who, for the most part, do exceptional work on our streets every day and night. It is up to society to shine brighter and more courageous lights on those in our midst, trusted with weapons and a badge, who misuse them - whether willfully and deliberately or from ignorance or lack of training. This book will stay with you a long time, I believe, a tragic, gripping and powerful story in 30 slim chapters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2012
In this seventh of a 10-book series, readers learn about the dubious role of Sweden's army and police during WW II. [Sweden was neutral, but gave the Germans overland passage to occupy Norway and helped their war effort with plenty of iron and steel.] Since then, army and police share a weird common ethos of a heroic past, maintain a closed culture and remain aloof from the rest of Swedish society. Despite many open murder cases, Swedish police has always managed to solve and win convictions in murder crimes against one of their own. But don't ask how...

A retired chief inspector is found dead in his Stockholm hospital room, cut and slashed viciously with a big, sharp object. Martin Beck's team dives into his past and quickly uncovers piles of complaints from citizens, even colleagues about his blunt, brutal working ways. They were always dismissed, and testifying against a colleague is not done, in Sweden and elsewhere, and surely not against one of his caliber and reputation. Kollberg, who once served under him in the army, calls him a pure sadist. In one of the best chapters, the dead man's closest ex-colleague lauds him as a model of correctness, a role model for the force. His widow describes him as kind and gentle during 26 years of marriage, endlessly patient while housetraining a succession of dogs. His old nickname on the force was "The Abominable Man from Sävle".

He is not the only policeman to die in this story... This is a real thriller which ends with a cliffhanger. Good recovery from the previous, sixth book, which was only good. This one is quite good with some memorable scenes. One caveat about the later S&W books is that although they are natural cynics, their sense of humor and irony is contrived and heavy-handed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2010
Wow! Could not put down "The Abominable Man" for the last 60 pages or so-- after Kristiansson takes a bullet in the knee. This story has the strengths (e.g., character's idiosyncrasies) and weaknesses (e.g., translation goofs) of the earlier books in the series, but is the fastest-paced of the bunch. Certainly a must-read for Martin Beck fans, of which I've become one, thanks to the other reviewers who recommended this series in their not-so-complimentary reviews of newer Swedish police procedurals that Amazon is pushing. Thanks, guys.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2014
Martin Beck is the main charcter in the Sjowall - Wahloo series. But not here. A disliked retired policeman is murdered in the first few pages. Then the homocide team starts sifting through evidence. At first it is not so much who but why. The why leads to who. And the why is an indictment of police mentality in Stockholm and the west in general.

A number of Detective Beck's associates contribute to piecing together the puzzle of why this former policeman was killed. More mayhem ensues, and Beck and other detectives each play a part.

One of the more opinionated novels and one of the simpler stories. It is fast-paced and will afflict the comfortable without comforting the afflicted. Unpredictable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2013
The Story of a Crime series is so good. This book has a different format that the rest - a shorter time period. Can't say much, or I'll spoil the plot! Couldn't stop reading!
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on December 27, 2012
Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo were a husband and wife team who wrote a series of 10 crime novels many believe to be the best set of police procedurals ever written. They wrote around the kitchen table, drafting alternate chapters. Such is the quality of their writing that it is almost impossible to differentiate their individual contributions. They were very concerned at what they saw as the moral decay of Swedish society during the 70s and their stories are often set in the context of cultural, economic and environmental changes they regard as fundamentally damaging to this small country. Viewed with the hindsight of 30 years, this sociological commentary is very interesting and provides a unique perspective of a society undergoing profound transition. Another special feature of their writing is their sympathetic treatment of the policemen working on the crime. Inspector Martin Beck has his own personal troubles and his leadership is complicated by the difficult personalities and dynamics within the team and by the nature of the crime - the gruesome murder of a retired cop. With sparse, elegant writing the duo produce a compelling novel that grabs your attention throughout.
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