This is the ninth of the Martin Beck mystery/police procedurals written by Maj Slowall and Per Wahloo in the 60s and 70s. They’ve adapted to several different films and tv shows, probably the most famous one, The Laughing Policeman written for Walter Mathau in the early 1970s. I have only read the first of the series besides this one, and they have about the same kind of meta-narrative as say the Harry Hole novels in that events do happen that carry over from book to book but each one has its own kind of bottle novel feel to it. I might have missed more than I realize, but I was still able to piece it together and at least focus on the central mystery.
Martin Beck has been called to a small town away from Copenhagen to investigate the disappearance of a woman in her 30s is perhaps presumed dead, but still unknown. The main reason he’s been called in is because the prime suspect of this crime is an old nemesis who had been imprisoned already and released. He is the next door neighbor of the woman. As you can imagine, things become more complicated as they investigate.
This is a novel about not necessarily redemption, but let’s call it moving on with one’s life. Beck and the previous murderer have a past together but are older now with years lived in between. Like everyone in the 1970s, Beck has a divorce under his belt and a complicated relationship with his children and he’s thinking about how to call it quits after all these years. The mystery itself is perfectly interesting but these novel tend to be kind of slim in that way.