The fourth book featuring Stockholm Police Commissioner Martin Beck is probably the best known, due to a movie adaptation with Walther Matthau in the main role I can understand its popularity, as it is my favorite so far in this ongoing police procedural series.
It is important to accentuate the procedural nature of the story, in order to give a warning to readers who expect all crime stories to have a super smart detective who solves cases by smoking a pipe ot twirling a moustache while the author goes to great lengths to hide the true culprit Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo write about the real thing, where results refuse to come, frustrating weeks are spent chasing fruitless interviews and poring over mountains of archive records I find it impressive how many modern authors of crime novels, in the foreword of each Martin Beck novel, mention the importance of this 50 years old series, and how it influenced them in their own writing.
The plot is a dark one On a late autumn evening, a double decker bus is the scene of a mass murder, all passengers victims of a machine gun attack Nobody has seen or heard anything One of the victims is a young officer in Martin Beck s unit The only avenue of investigation is to gather all the information available about the victims, trying to find a motive for the attack and hope it was not the work of a random madman.
Beyond the details of the investigation, the authors did a great job at rendering the tediousness of the work and the dismal atmosphere of the city on the brink of winterMonday Snow Wind Bitter cold orThe hours dragged past and nothing happened Day was added to day The days formed a week, and then another week Once again it was Monday Martin Beck is the same taciturn, slightly hypochondriac and manic depressive self that I have known in the first three novels Here is how he describes himself at one pointHe looked in the mirror as recently as the evening before and seen a tall, sinister figure, with a lean face, wide forehead, heavy jaws and mournful gray blue eyes Hard to imagine him as the laughing character from the title In fact his daughter has one of the most heart rending conversations with him one morning over breakfastWhat are you thinking about, Daddy Ingrid asked Nothing, he said automatically I haven t seen you laugh since last spring Readers will have to wait until the last page of the novel to have him finally laugh, but for me it was well worth the journey.
More than the previous novels, The Laughing Policeman stresses the importance of team work, and puts the spotlight on each member of Martin Beck s team each one with his strengths and limitations, quirks and affectations Most of the novel has a downbeat tone, which makes even precious the little flashes of humor in the banter between the investigators The blackest kind of humor, gallows style, but still it shows the human side of these people who take their job seriously So seriously that this passage I have extracted as illustration could apply to any of themIt was true, however, that a few months earlier he had lain awake at night going through the investigation into the murder of a taxi driver twelve years before What I love about Wahloo and Sjowall characters is that the job hasn t turned them into bitter cynics My favorite scene involves not Beck, but his colleague Lennart Kollberg and Asa Torrell the fiance of one one of the victims, a reminder that they are dealing with human persons and not with cold facts I would recommend this novel to all readers who have, at one time or another, been angry at the local cops and joined the F.
k the Police angry crowd Yes, there usually are bad apples in the force, but some of them are heroes and we have them to thank for a tranquil sleep at night and for a continuing faith in justice.
After finishing The Man on the Balcony, I decided to go back for of Martin Beck and his colleagues, and I m so happy I did The Laughing Policeman is the fourth in the Martin Beck series, and so far it is my favorite from this writing duo.
While the police in Stockholm are busy at the American Embassy where a protest against the Vietnam War has turned very ugly, patrolmen Kvant and Kristiansson, the Keystone Cop ish police officers who just so happened to have inadvertently solved the case in The Man on the Balcony, are just biding their time until their shift is over Crossing from the municipality of Solna into Stockholm, they re flagged down by a man walking a dog who reports an accident The two drive on over and discover a doubledecker bus with lights on and doors open off the road Inside the bus are several dead bodies, all gunned down in their seats, and the scene looks like a massacre The homicide squad headed by Martin Beck arrives and discovers that one of their own is dead on the bus a young police inspector named Ake Stenstrom There are very little clues on the scene, thanks to Kvant and Kristiansson, and as far as motive, until Beck and his men can go through the list of victims, it is not readily apparent To bring the gunman to justice and close the case Beck and his team will have to put in long hours and examine the lives of all of the dead To discover why this happened, the most important fact they need to discern is the identity of the intended target, not a simple task in the least.
Sj wall and Perl s plotting and storyline are not the only reasons this book and the series work so well The authors also continue to develop their characters personalities so that the people in the Stockholm homicide squad become and familiar to the reader as time progresses Those two factors, along with their ability to evoke what they consider the social ills and the events of the time period make these short novels so compelling In the space of only 211 pages the authors manage to set up the plot, detail the often frustrating investigation, catch up on what s going on with Beck, Kollberg and the other main players, and wrap things up in a than satisfying conclusion They keep the superfluous prose away, giving the reader only what s needed to keep the story going There are no torrid love affairs, no in depth soul searching or major subplots to sidetrack the reader Sj wall and Perl are probably among the best crime writers in terms of their focus on the crime at hand, while still managing to continue the growth of their beloved characters The time frame is well established through their use of current events like the Vietnam War protests and American serial killers of the time especially Charles Whitman and the U of Texas shootings They also have this ability to make the reader laugh in the midst of terrible crimes here they go on about psychologists and profiling of serial killers in a discussion that was priceless.
I d definitely recommend this book and the entire series to anyone who wants to read something intelligent in the realm of crime fiction, and to readers of Scandinavian crime fiction in particular You can t read just the current popular authors and feel like you have experienced the best that the Nordic countries have to offer this series is a no miss, for sure.
Another super book in the series about the morose, melancholy and mirthless detective Martin Beck though it is an ensemble piece in reality as his colleagues are heavily involved as well rounded totally believable characters in their own right.
Who has machine gunned nine people on a Stockholm bus late one evening Why is an off duty policeman one of the victims How is this case linked to an unsolved murder mystery There are no witnesses save a man in a coma who expires after waking briefly and speaking a few words of gibberish, no real clues and a compromised crime scene, but Beck and his team painstakingly solve the case by following the minutest of clues to a surprising conclusion.
An evocative thriller, easy to read and enjoyable in the extreme We even have a dose of slapsick in the incompetent beat cop duo of Kvant and Kristiansson.
This was written in the 60s and in a few places it shows everyone smokes all of the time and it is less than PC on occasion but this is certainly a good read.
Sj wall Wahl s 4th book has never been made into a Swedish movie, but was filmed starring Wather Matthau in 1973 The Laughing Policeman If you happen to have caught that one, please know that, even if the story than the characters survived the relocation to the States, it doesn t really hold a candle to the original This story, starting off with the shocking mass murder of a number of people on a night bus in central Stockholm, is one of, if not the top of the series.
Note Not all the others where filmed in Sweden either, no 8 Det slutna rummet was a Dutch movie and the last one Terroristerna was only in very small parts incorporated in Stockholm Marathon.
The Story of a Crime Book 4 The One With A Mass Murder, a Cop Killing and Beck Takes a Back SeatSimenon aside I don t think there are any other crime writers who have managed to capture so much in so few pages, once Sjowall Wahloo have written fantastic piece of genre fiction whilst holding a mirror up to society, it s failings and its strengths Yes it is from their own particular Marxist viewpoint but they are not dogmatic about it.
This case is set in the winter of 1968, Europe is protesting American involvement in Vietnam and authority figures in Stockholm, including the police department of Martin Beck, are finding themselves labelled as the villains of society Nine people are murdered by a gunman on a bus who then flees the scene of his crime leaving Martin Beck and his homicide department to investigate the death of one of their own team, shot whilst off duty.
The authors seem to be using the weather to set the tone for their novels so far and what is remarkable is that each of them have been unique in approach to storytelling whilst consistently adding something to the body of work as a whole The meandering daze of The Man Who Went Up In Smoke replaced by an oppressive heatwave leaving everybody on edge throughout The Man On The Balcony and now a long, cold, grey and snowy winter adding to the pervasive mood of depression that falls on the detectives, the case and the novel The slow, methodical and everyday nature of the investigation is what really shines through in this case and should work as a glowing example of what crime fiction should be.
Martin Beck takes a back seat in this investigation, marshalling his troops to great effect but on the whole adopting a Socialist approach towards solving the case This allows us to get to know other members of the team that have only had passing roles in previous cases Kollberg is the major benefactor from this decision from Sjowall Wahloo, the recipient of case time as we meet his wife and child in direct contrast to Beck s failing private life and witness his own peculiarities when investigating a crime it is his hard work and dedication to catching his colleagues murderer that finally pays off and it is his relationship with Martin Beck that seems to be and at the heart of these novels.
This one feels like new heights have been reached once in a series that has gotten consistently better from book one and it s surely not going to be long before a five star reaction is had to one If you haven t read Sjowall Wahloo yet I feel you could easily start here but taking the complete journey from start to finish has it s own rewards too.
Part 1 RoseannaPart 2 The Man Who Went Up In SmokePart 3 The Man On The Balcony This book won the Edgar Award for best novel in 1971 and it is easy to see why It is a mesmerizing tale right from the first sentence, maybe the best in this series that I have read so far As with the three earlier books, this one is deceptively simple in construction It is told in laconic this happened, then this happened fashion, and it is hard for an amateur such as myself to deconstruct just why it is so good But if the object of a writer is to entertain and hold the interest of the reader, this book and this series succeeds admirably.
Once again we have the ever morose and ever dyspeptic Swedish policeman Martin Beck, now risen to the rank of superintendent, along with his cohorts in the Stockholm police department, trying to solve an unprecedented crime where clues are few A city bus has been found abandoned on the streets with everyone on board, including the driver, dead They have all been shot with a submachine gun.
One of those killed, it turns out, was one of Martin Beck s men, the youngest detective in his squad, Ake Stenstrom There had been no murders in Stockholm recently and all the detectives were working on old cases, but no one knew exactly which one Ake was working on The question, of course, is whether he was the unfortunate victim of a random mass murder a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time or was his re investigation of the old case somehow tied to his death Was the murder of all those other people simply window dressing, a red herring to misdirect the police s interest From this point, the investigation proceeds in classic police procedural fashion Martin Beck and his compatriots are convinced that their colleague s presence on the bus was no coincidence and that his was the death which the murderer sought Trying to discover what might have been stirred up by his investigation, they retrace his steps and look again at old clues to a crime that has been long thought to be unsolvable The reader can be forgiven for wondering whether Sjowall Wahloo had any affection at all for poor Martin Beck They certainly don t give him any especially sympathetic characteristics or any redeeming qualities Except maybe one We get a hint here of his care and concern for his two children, especially for his teenage daughter with whom he seems to enjoy a certain rapport Perhaps will be developed in later books regarding his family relationships in order to give his moroseness and dyspepsia context Certainly what we know of his wife indicates that he may have good reason to be morose.
As ever, Martin Beck is not the hero or even the main focus of The Laughing Policeman Indeed there is little reason for any of the policemen in this tale to crack a smile even, but we get to know and understand each member of the squad just a little better through their participation in this investigation Each of them doggedly plays his part in pursuing the killer even when they can really see no reason for the line of inquiry they are following In the end, each of them will have contributed a piece of the puzzle No one is a standout It is, in every sense of the word, a team effort.
One of the reasons that I like this series so much is the sly humor which is so much a part of the narrative It s hard to give a specific example of this it is a situation where you had to be there But, trust me, there is humor here, as there are clear eyed observations of Swedish society in the 1960s Indeed, in many ways, this isn t so much a police procedural as a sociological study.
And, yes, finally, Martin Beck does laugh, for the first time that I remember in this series It comes on the very last page, the last paragraph It s worth reading that far to see it.
This was only the second of the Edgar Best Novel winners so far that I knew for certain I had read before But, I decided it would be worthwhile to reread it, and how right I was Martin Beck, the protagonist of this series, is the spiritual ancestor of Henning Mankell s Kurt Wallander He pretty much bears out any stereotype you may have about gloomy Swedes But he s a heck of a policeman.
One thing I don t recall noticing when I first read this book back in the 1970s was how it is set in a definite time 1967, with protest demonstrations worldwide about America s involvement in Vietnam The book opens with such a demonstration in Stockholm, with most police detailed to keep order Shortly, however, Beck is called to a crime scene someone has shot all the passengers and the driver of a city bus And one of the victims is one of his own homicide detectives.
The solution of the case leads to the solution of a cold case from the early 50s, and owes to good, solid, routine police investigation than to any stunning intuitions on the part of Beck or his colleagues As is my wont, I had forgotten whodunnit long ago so that I enjoyed not only the writing, but the mystery I very seldom reread mysteries, but the Sjowall and Wahloo series is well worth a reread, or a first read if you haven t encountered them yet.
Den skrattande polisen Martin Beckby Maj Den skrattande polisen Book Readreviews From The World S Largest Community For Readers I Den Rda Tvvningsbussen Som Trafikerade Linjehalvl Readreviews From The World S Largest Community For Readers Hasse Brontn Den skrattande polisen Mininjet P Den Tiden Fanns Inte Stuppkomik I Sverige, Det Kom I Slutet Avtalet Och D Hade Jag Redan Kommit In P Polishgskolan Men Jag Krde Lite Gig P Fritiden Sen Dk Det Upp En Kurs I Stand Up P Den skrattande polisen The Laughing Policeman Om Den skrattande polisen En Brutal Massmrdare Lper Amok Med Ett Maskingevr Bland Passagerarna P En Nattbuss Tta Mnniskor Blir Ihjlskjutna, Dribland En Ung Kriminalpolis Det Finns Inga Vittnen Till Bussmassakern, Men Genom De Ddade Frsker Polisen Nrma Sig Mrdaren Den skrattande polisen Sjwall Wahl, Maj Kommissarie Beck Han Knde Inte Igen Rsten I Telefonen Ja, Det R Jag Det Hr R Sambandscentralen Flera Passagerare Har Hittats Skjutna I En Buss P Linje Fyrtiosju Nra Maj Sjwall Per Wahl Den skrattande polisen En Rd Tv Vningsbuss P Linjei Stockholm P Grnsen Till Solna Viker Pltsligt Av Sin Vg Och Kr In I Ett Staket P Norra Stationsgatan Den skrattande polisen Piratfrlaget Kommissarie Beck Han Knde Inte Igen Rsten I Telefonen Ja, Det R Jag Det Hr R Sambandscentralen Flera Passagerare Har Hittats Skjutna I En Buss P Linje Fyrtiosju Nra Ndhllplatsen P Norra Stationsgatan Den skrattande polisen Roman Wikipedia Den skrattande polisen R En Deckare Skriven Av Maj Sjwall Och Per Wahl UtgivenDen Handlar Om Kommissarie Martin Beck Boken Vann Det Prestigefyllda EdgarprisetDen skrattande polisen Film Wikipedia Den skrattande polisen originaltitel The Laughing Policeman R En Amerikansk Film Frnmed Walter Matthau I Rollen Som Sjwall Wahls Martin Beck, Hr Kallad Jake Martin