Dang it! I really did not need another mystery series to get into.
A few years ago, I read Roseanna, which is book one in Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s famed Martin Beck detective series. I liked it fine as a procedural but I’m not much of a fan of procedurals in general. Many complimented the series for the social justice aspect; it was an outsized influence for Henning Mankell in his popular Wallander series. But it just didn’t grab me. The case was interesting enough but it was interspersed with details about Beck’s cold and his troublesome home life, neither of which I cared in the way the writers wanted me to care.
So I cast the series aside, thinking I’d never revisit it but in conversation with a journalist I like who also enjoys crime novels, they mentioned this series as the best detective series they’d read in years. Seeing as how book two, The Man Who Went Up In Smoke, clocked in at a reasonable 188 pages, I figured it was worth a shot.
And it was. This is still a procedural but aside from the details of Beck’s ruined vacation, there are fewer personal notes and more detective work. The case was legitimately clever and resolved in a good way. There was a serendipitous moment that led to the break in the case but overall, this is quality craftsmanship from the duo.
It almost functions as some of Ross Macdonald’s better Lew Archer works do: the character of Archer is not central, instead working on the margins of the story in order for the reader to see what’s going on. I appreciated that.
Alas, my unwieldy TBR pile is about to grow bigger.