Sunday, October 19, 2008


I read my first six Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo [Martin Beck] books many years ago, longer than I want to admit. 
In 2006 I returned to the series reading The Locked Room which I reviewed here
My admiration for these books was revived and I bought the remaining three in the series that I had not previously read. I think that if I was marooned on a desert island I would want these ten books to read and reread. 

Number 5: The Fire Engine That Disappeared
Number 6: Murder At The Savoy
Number 7: The Abominable Man

They looked very good on the shelf and I regarded them like a fine wine to be enjoyed over a period of time, rather than gulped down at one sitting.

All three were purchased in the excellent Harper Perennial editions with introductions and interesting interviews and extras. 
I have posted about this fantastic series before here and here and here
and  here.

I have now started to read The Fire Engine That Disappeared [you can read an excellent review of this book by Maxine of Petrona here] and am surprised at the almost Nostradamus relevance to the problems of today raised in this nearly 40 year old police procedural. Of course Swedish society was more advanced towards that socialist liberal utopia envisaged by their and our political leaders which they assumed would solve all worries.

'.....but nowadays there was an increasing tendency on the part of the authorities to look the other way when it came to young girls going astray. Their escapades were too numerous, the social workers too few and ways of correction either non existent or out of date.'

'Karlsson was a typical small-timer, the one who finally delivered the narcotics to schoolchildren in their lunch breaks in exchange for their pocket money and what they could steal from their parents.......'

'How many middlemen the goods had been through before they reached him, he certainly would have no idea, and between him and the root of the evil lay an enormous complex of political miscalculations and failed social policy.' 

We still have not solved these problems yet and unfortunately periods of excess such as we have just enjoyed are usually followed by a violent reaction. 

In the book the drug squad come to arrest Karlsson dressed in coloured sweaters, and Gunvald Larsson comments, perhaps  predicting future  financial problems:

'And also, one doesn't in fact salute when wearing an Icelandic sweater.' 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely quotes, Norm! You've caught up with me now, so I'll have to get back to this wonderful series. (Which you introduced me to - I don't think I'd heard of them before you told me about them.) I owe you!

10:49 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

You are reading them in the correct order Maxine. I read them I think in this order.
Cop Killer
The Terrorists
The Man on the Balcony
The Man Who Went Up in Smoke
The Laughing Policeman
The Locked Room
The Fire Engine That Disappeared

So I have just the two to go! Not a recommended procedure but the books were difficult to get hold of before the days of the internet and Amazon, Book Depository etc.
If I live long enough I will go back and read them in the correct order.
I will remember you owe me. :0)

11:37 AM  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

This may have been the greatest series ever for me.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Agreed they are brilliant, and apart from mobile phones or DNA checks don't seem dated.

12:15 PM  

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