Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Monday, April 29, 2013

Joan's Pick of the Week

  • Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.

     A friend who loves the Scandinavian crime novels was thrilled to tell our book club about finding, in a second hand book store, the ten novels written by Sjowall and Wahloo, the husband and wife team who not only started the northern trend, but according to Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell, broke with the previous formulaic detective story, where the emphasis was on solving a mystery,  to write stories which not only examined society but also included social criticism.

    Roseanna is the first book in a series which, while structured around their hero, Martin Beck and the National Homicide Bureau, holds up a mirror to Swedish society. Written in 1962, Roseanna is as fresh as if published yesterday.

    It goes without saying that Detective Martin Beck is a morose man. All the detectives in the Swedish police procedurals are morose while the Norwegian detectives are even more morose and the Finnish the most morose of all. The Icelandic detectives are off the chart.

    A woman’s body is found and the investigation starts.  Things move slowly and, as in real police work, long stretches of time pass without much happening. Inspector Martin Beck becomes more morose, gets sick, slouches around, gets ideas that go nowhere, confers with colleagues and gets more morose if possible. Somehow the reader loves it, moves with the flow, follows all the threads and turns the page. Quite miraculous.

    The books seem to have disappeared from the local library but are available on line at Chapters and Amazon at quite a reasonable price.  And, of course, the second hand shops.

    Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

    The titles of the series are:
  • Roseanna
  • The Man Who Went Up in Smoke
  • The Man on the Balcony
  • The Laughing Policeman
  • The Fire Engine That Disappeared
  • Murder at the Savoy
  • The Abominable Man
  • The Locked Room
  • Cop Killer
The Terrorists

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