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Roseanna: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (1) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – September 30, 2008

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Roseanna: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (1) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) + The Man Who Went Up in Smoke: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (2) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) + The Man on the Balcony: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (3) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307390462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307390462
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A modern classic. . . . Lively, stylistically taut . . . Sjöwall and Wahlöö changed the genre.”
—Henning Mankell, from the introduction

"A wonderfully tough and pleasantly chilling tale . . . told without a wasted word."

“Superb suspense. . . . Let no mystery authority worth the appellation miss Roseanna. . . . I have never read a finer police story.” —Dorothy B. Hughes, Los Angeles Times

“Sjöwall and Wahlöö are the best writers of police procedural in the world.”
Birmingham Post

About the Author

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, her husband and coauthor, wrote ten Martin Beck mysteries. Mr Wahloo, who died in 1975, was a reporter for several Swedish newspapers and magazines and wrote numerous radio and television plays, film scripts, short stories, and novels. Maj Sjöwall is also a poet.

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Customer Reviews

This is the first book of 10 Martin Beck police mysteries which are originally written in Swedish.
I enjoy reading authors from around the world - I really enjoyed this read and look forward to more in the series.
Reuben J Trane Jr
The dialogue is well written, the characters multi-dimensional, and the plot is tight, with moments of suspense.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö's first Martin Beck mystery, "Roseanna," deals with the unexpected discovery of a corpse in Motala, Sweden, when a bucket dredging machine unclogs a canal to prepare it for the spring boat traffic. On a warm and beautiful day, the bucket gobbles up not only mud but the nude body of a young woman in her late twenties. The police try to identify the victim, but since no one of her description has been reported missing, the authorities are stymied. First Detective Inspector Martin Beck of the Swedish National Police, an eight year veteran of the Homicide Bureau, rushes off to work, eager to say goodbye to his indolent wife ("Years had passed since they had really talked.") When he arrives at Motala to assist local law enforcement officials with the aforementioned case, Beck receives a gloomy report: "We haven't learned a thing [in eight days]. We don't know who she is, we don't know the scene of the crime, and we have no suspects." Beck's colleagues, Melander and Kollberg, are doing what they can to assist with the investigation, but are also getting nowhere. Although most people would throw up their hands in defeat, Beck is "stubborn and logical, and completely calm." Although he develops a terrible cold and sore throat, he continues with his routine. He and his team persist until they finally discover the name of the deceased; they then attempt to retrace her movements in the days leading up to her death.

What makes "Roseanna," first published in 1965, a groundbreaking crime novel? Sjöwall and Wahlöö write in a spare, no-nonsense style, with just the right amount of detail, no theatrics, and little violence. They humanize their detectives, depicting each with his particular problems, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By zorba on January 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a simple book. A crime is committed and the police, led by Martin Beck, assiduously and systematically track down the killer. As others have noted, the book is tersely written but each sentence is power-packed. As you go through the book, you get a good feel for the characters and the settings. There is enough suspense and drama to keep you riveted, but not overwhelmed. This is a gem of a police procedural in all respects.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Sean Rueter VINE VOICE on January 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read an interview with Jeff Vandermeer where he mentioned this series as being an influence/inspiration for his latest novel. Vandermeer is an author who I always find interesting, so I decided to check out the first Martin Beck novel. And I'm really glad that I did.

The amazing thing for me is that Roseanna is one of the best examples of a procedural I have ever read, but one that also succeeds in making the players real and relatable. And in only 200 pages, using very tight prose! The procedural elements not only give the audience a sense of the work involved in solving a homicide, but also the tedium and frustration, the pressure and the responsibility. There's a brilliant paragraph on the very first page that illustrates the bureaucracy of life for a government worker trying to get something done. At the same time, and in the same style, Wahloo and Sjowall infuse their characters with humanity - sickness, domestic conflict, hobbies, teasing between coworkers, comfortable and uncomfortable silences.

I was excited to learn that this is the first of ten books that the authors collectively called "The Story of a Crime". I'm equally excited to dig further into that story.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By K. Thompson on April 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
I don't normally write Amazon reviews, but I can't keep my mouth shut about this book. It was one of the best books I've ever read. Lately, I've become a big fan of Swedish police procedurals, devouring Nesser and Mankell, but Sjowall and Wahloo are going right to the top of my "must read this or die" list.

The story is simple: During a routine dredging of a Swedish lake, workers uncover the body of mutilated, strangled young woman. Inspector Martin Beck and his detectives catch the case, and they have their work cut out for them. Who is this woman? Where did she come from? Who did her in? And, most importantly, can they keep him from killing again?

There's just something wonderful about Swedish procedurals. I can't quite put my finger on it, but they're so refreshing and interesting compared to American thrillers, which often drip with gratuitous violence and sex and are terribly written. Generally, the Swedes keep it simple and straightforward, using 10 words where Americans might take 30 to convey the same thing. Sjowall and Wahloo don't disappoint; the writing moves along at a great pace, very smooth and engaging, every word carefully selected. (And clearly translated with love; and precision. I'm normally wary of translations, but the men and women who translate Swedish procedurals are just brilliant.)

Most vivid is the characterization. Like other Swedish authors, Sjowall and Wahloo don't "over-characterize." They don't drown readers with dozens of pages of backstory and physical description. They use adjectives sparingly. Instead, readers are treated to the golden rule: show, don't tell. Actions and dialogue dominate the characterization, giving us a genuine feel for Beck, Ahlberg, Kollander and all the others.
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