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Roseanna. Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (A Martin Beck Novel) Paperback – June 1, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

According to Per Wahloo, the ten books he wrote with his wife, Maj Sjowall, about Inspector Martin Beck were intended to be a left-wing assault on the sacred cows of Swedish society. They are also, however, entertaining tales of mystery that allow non-Swedes to slip under the skin of another culture while having a frighteningly good time. In this first book of the series, the body of a young woman is discovered as a dredger digs a canal. There seems to be little chance of Beck identifying the woman, let alone discovering who killed her. But by combining time-honored methods of police procedure with a few local twists, Beck manages to do just that. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'They changed the genre. Whoever is writing crime fiction after these novels is inspired by them in one way or another.' Henning Mankell 'If you haven't read Sjowall/Wahloo, start now.' Sunday Telegraph 'Pick up one book...and you become unhinged. You want to block out a week of your life, lie to your boss, and stay in bed, gorging on one after another.' Observer 'The writing is elegant and surprisingly humorous - if you haven't come across Beck before, you're in for a treat.' Guardian

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Product Details

  • Series: A Martin Beck Novel (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007439113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007439119
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,916,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Westley VINE VOICE on July 18, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Roseanna" introduces Martin Beck, an overworked but brilliant Swedish policeman. When the body of a young woman is found in a nearby lake, Beck is called in to assist. The case proves frustrating, and months pass before any progress is made. Fortunately, Beck is persistent and sticks with the case, even as it begins to haunt his life. Originally released in 1967, the plot doesn't rely on high-tech police techniques - just good old-fashioned story-telling.
Married authors Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo crafted this fine novel, as well as subsequent entries in the Martin Beck series. The style of writing is sometimes dry and always factual, which adds a great deal of realism to the story. At times, the translation is somewhat awkward, particularly in the dialogue, but it doesn't detract much from the overall impact of the book. Vintage Crime/ Black Lizard has re-released the series, and as always they've done a beautiful job. Recommended for fans of police/detective stories - I intend to read more entries in the series.
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Format: Paperback
The first in a series of ten detective novels intended to portray the decay of modern Scandinavian society though the lens of the police procedural. Written by a husband and wife team, (Sjowall and Wahloo), the books are excellently plotted and written, with an eye toward detail and realism.
In this first book, the emphasis is more on introducing the characters and their methods, with very little political or social commentary. The protagonist is the hapless Martin Beck, a homicide detective with the Stockholm police force, trapped in a loveless marriage at home and stultified by inept bueracracy at the workplace. His escape from the tedium of existence is his quiet, unstated, love of police work, particularly his own methodical approach to homicide.
This book introduces us to Beck, and follows his patient investigation into the rape, bludgeoning, and subsequent drowning of an American tourist named Roseanna. It is one of the best in the series; in fact, its probably one of the greatest crime novels ever written. Start with this book and read the rest of the series. You won't be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
facts are what we need." Crane Wilbur

Facts are few and far between for Detective Inspector Martin Beck in "Roseanna". A girl's body is found by a dredger in a lock near Sweden's Lake Vattern. The body is naked and there are no clues as to her identity and the reasons for her death. Martin Beck is called up from Stockholm to assist the local authorities in their investigation. Through a process of time-consuming grunt work and dogged determination Beck and his colleagues try first to find the pieces to this jigsaw puzzle of a mystery. They first have to identify the dead girl. Next they have to identify the crime scene (one of a number of passenger ferries). Finally the have to identify a possible suspect out of more than eighty potential killers.

The pace of the book tracks the pace of the investigation. In the first few months of the case little progress is made. However, this affords the readers the opportunity to get a glimpse of Beck and his colleague's character and personalities as they go about the daily grind of their police work. The pace quickens and the excitement mounts as the jigsaw puzzle pieces begin to fall into place.

Roseanna was the first 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.
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Format: Paperback
I've long intended to check out the 10-book Martin Beck series by Swedish husband/wife team Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, and the 40th anniversary of this first book in the series seems like a good excuse. For some reason, some readers seem to think the book takes place in the '70s or late '60s, but it was written in 1963-4, published in Sweden in 1965, and appeared in English in 1967. The story begins with the discovery of a woman's corpse in Lake Vattern in central Sweden, roughly equidistant from Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo. The police from the nearby town of Motala start investigating and when it's established that the woman was strangled, the homicide experts from Stockholm are called in.

Enter Martin Beck, a chain-smoking homicide detective roughly in his late 30s. Beck is a classic example of the workaholic policeman that one can find in crime fiction and film the world over. He barely speaks to his wife and children, and prefers long hard hours at the office to a home life that offers him nothing. It's such a bleak portrait that the reader is hard-pressed to imagine Beck's marriage (or lungs) surviving the series. The story is a very straightforward, and almost dry procedural account of the case. The first problem the team encounters is in identifying the victim, as she doesn't match any missing persons reports and as part of the route for touring the Gota canal system, Lake Vattern is a high-traffic tourist area, with lots of tour boats coming through. The second hurdle is that once she is identified, months have passed, and tracking down everyone who was on her tour cruise and taking statements proves very difficult.
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