Going into reading this series, I knew Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö were avowed socialists who wrote these books in large parts as a critique of inequality in Sweden. But while their beliefs do sneak out from time-to-time, they generally ground their mysteries in the tradition of a police procedural as opposed to pedagogy cloaked in mystery drag.
That goes out the window with Murder at the Savoy, which is about as didactic of a book as I’ve read from them. There’s no question about it to the co-authors: the rich suck. They also suck the marrow out of the economy of Sweden. Juxtapositions here abound and they’re impossible to miss, even for someone like me who normally doesn’t pick up on such symbolism.
Generally, the victims in Martin Beck books are sympathetic figures. Random civilians, a fellow officer, some members of the lower class. That’s not the case here and the authors don’t even bother trying to hide their disgust. The victim himself is a stand-in for the decay of the noble/patron class. His wife and cronies are out to get theirs as opposed to mourning him. I won’t spoil anything about the end but I doubt you’ll be surprised at the resolution.
This all, coupled with some serendipitous evidence recovery in a similar manner to Fire Engine That Disappeared, shows the treat on the series’ tires. This is book six after all. It’s probably the least good of 2-6…but it’s still really good. The procedural bits are fun, the humor is on point and the critiques are sharp, perhaps too much so but still. I enjoyed everything around the mystery more than the mystery itself, which is not what I would normally say about a Beck book. But this does align with what I’ve heard about the series: that they follow a logical progression for what the authors are revealing about Sweden. And I am here for that.