Maj Sjöwell and Per Wahlöö are credited with creating the Nordic crime novel and providing the precedent for all the novels we now enjoy from Scandinavian writers.
Set in Stockholm, their series of books featuring Martin Beck was written over ten years and stands as a wonderful example of character development.
Beginning with Roseanna, written in 1965, the reader meets Martin as he prepares to travel to the locale where the body of a young woman has been found. As he finishes packing for his trip, we learn that “Martin Beck wasn’t chief of the Homicide Squad and had no such ambitions. Sometimes he doubted if he would ever make superintendent although the only things that could actually stand in his way were death or some very serious error in his duties. He was a First Detective with the National Police and had been with the Homicide Bureau for eight years. There were people who thought that he was the country’s most capable examining officer.”
Beck is a methodical investigator and the detailed description of the procedural nature of his work is the hallmark of the authors’ status as the very best crime writers. It takes him six and half months to catch Roseanna’s killer and involves detectives from as far away as America. It is the randomness of her killing and the difficulty of identifying her that dog Beck throughout the investigation. But, it is his calm stubbornness that carries him forward to the ultimate, accurate unveiling of the truth of Roseanna’s death.
Martin Beck will become a favourite detective for avid crime fiction readers.