‘Roseanna’ by Sjowall and Wahloo

My Review (5 stars out of 5)

Roseanna is the first of the ten books in the Martin Beck detective series written by husband-and-wife team Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. When the body of a young woman is discovered in Sweden’s Lake Vattern, the police investigation soon grinds to a halt. After three months, Inspector Martin Beck still knows almost nothing about the dead woman other than one of the passengers on the boat she was travelling on may be the killer.

Acknowledged as the creators of a style of writing that inspired the likes of Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson, Sjowal and Wahloo wrote ten books over a ten-year period, each writing alternate chapters. What this first book does is highlight the day-to-day slog of a police force peopled mostly by men who smoke, use typewriters and spend much of their time following false leads. The character of Martin Beck is a methodical man who has an unsatisfying home life and is happier at work than with his wife. Though the novel doesn’t have the fast-paced thrill of many modern police procedurals, it’s a thoughtful and interesting study of how the police team stubbornly pursue a suspect, baiting him with an undercover officer, until the man finally steps out of line.

Though very different from the Beck TV series, this is a must for anyone interested in the development of crime writing.

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  2 comments for “‘Roseanna’ by Sjowall and Wahloo

  1. 12/09/2021 at 6:48 PM

    This sounds interesting, Colin. My mom is a huge Jo Nesbo fan.


    • 14/09/2021 at 8:42 AM

      Me too, Robbie, though Sjowall and Wahloo’s writing is nothing like Jo’s. 😉


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