This is the fourth Martin Beck novel and I didn’t like it as much as almost any of the others I’ve read, but it’s still good. It begins with a terrible incident on a bus in which a group of riders is murdered by a gunman with a machine gun. In a lot of ways it previews the kinds of horrific violence we understand daily in the US and the book is pretty angry that a mass killing has made its way to the shores of Sweden. It makes reference to a few other cases of high profile mass murders especially the UT Austin sniper shootings by Charles Whitman. But it also tries to make sense of mass killing in terms of other kinds of murder. And it simply doesn’t work to do this because we know more, at least from experience, that these events are more specifically sui generis than that. So there’s a moment in which Martin Beck or someone else is confused by the fact that the killer didn’t plan for a way out or to escape, and I feel like we are beyond the notion that these are crimes based in the idea of an after.
Even Charles Whitman, who barricaded himself in the tower and packed food, couldn’t have possibly been looking for escape, and there’s even speculation that he had a brain tumor and had been turned away by doctors like a hypochondriac.
Anyway, what works in the other novels, where there’s a connection to recent politics, feels less clear or good in this novel.