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The Laughing Policeman: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (4) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – February 10, 2009
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"A tantalizing, intricate tale."
—The New York Times Book Review
“Sjöwall and Wahlöö write unsparingly and unswervingly. . . . Their plots are second to none.”
“Lively and stylistically taut. . . . Sjöwall and Wahlöö changed the genre.”
Top Customer Reviews
On a rainy Stockholm night a gunman opens fire on Stockholm bus, killing eight passengers and critically wounding a ninth. The crime scene is bloody and chaotic. Critical clues may have been destroyed when the first police officers arrive on the scene and trample through the bus. Police Superintendent Martin Beck is placed in charge of the investigation. There appear to be no clues and no apparent motive. His task is the monumental one of taking this chaotic scene and imposing enough order on it so that clues may be found, leads followed, and the criminal or criminals brought to justice. The physical and mental burdens of the job are compounded by emotional burdens once Beck discovers that one of the victims happens to be a detective who worked in Martin Beck's unit. That is the plot that unfolds in the opening pages of Per Wahloo and Maj Sowall's remarkably well-crafted "The Laughing Policeman".
The Laughing Policeman, published in Sweden in 1968 and in the U.S. in 1971 (winner of that year's Edgar Award for Best Novel), was the fourth in a series of ten Martin Beck mysteries written by the Swedish, husband and wife team of Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall. The plot and structure of the four Beck mysteries I've read to date do not deviate from the standard format found in any well-written police procedural. However, what sets the Beck mysteries apart is their location and character development. Naturally enough, each book is a small window into Swedish life and culture in the 1960s and 1970s when the books were written. Further, as the series develops the character of Beck and his colleagues evolve and the reader slowly obtains a real feel for Beck and his fellow police officers.Read more ›
The entire detective force of Sweden is assigned to solve the murder of 9 people on a Stockholm bus in 1968 (an anti-war - Vietnam that is - demonstration is the backdrop for the book's opening). One of the murdered is Ake Stenstrom, a Stockholm detective. His presence on the bus begins to unravel the mystery of this seemingly random and insane mass murder. Insane it may be, but never random.
Each detective obsessively follows their own path and the paths lead into Stockholm's underworld. Could an old unsolved murder somehow be related to this insane bloodshed many years later? Mass murder so un-Swedish after all - the police don't even have any psychological profiles they can use. Can the always miserable Beck or his top-notch partner Lennart Kollberg crack the case?
Highly recommended for fans of detective stories with an international bent.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A classic novel from this incredible pair of authors. I first read it when it was first published. Now, decades later, it takes on an historical patina which is wonderful in its... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Pete
I enjoyed the whole series -- not too complicated, not a "downer," just a good read.Published 6 months ago by M. Fulrath
Humane characters, both victims and policeman. I am rereading them after twenty years; they are as good as I remember.Published 10 months ago by Catherine
At times, one wonders how the detectives keep their jobs.
Even without our modern crime-solving methods, the "team"
has a tough time thinking through the clues... Read more
Excellent. Loved the European flavor. How the police need to deal with their particular brand of bureaucratic problems. The characters were awesome.Published 13 months ago by tennisue
This is the 4th in a series of 10 murder mysteries "starring" Swedish detective Martin Beck. Read morePublished 13 months ago by A. Steven Toby