Saturday, August 13, 2011


Author: Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo Publication Date: 1965 Category: Crime, Police Procedural Who'll want to read it?: Crime fans, especially of the police procedural bent. People interested in Scandinavian fiction. Point of no return: "When he put the papers back in the folder and turned off the light, he thought: 'Whoever she was, and wherever she came from, I'm going to find out.'" Classic line: "Finally, Kollberg said: 'That was a flop, wasn't it? Examining that tough guy you went down and mangled?' 'He didn't do it.' 'Are you absolutely sure?' 'No.' 'Do you feel sure?' 'Yes.' 'That's good enough for me.' What's it all about? Roseanna is a police procedural crime novel. These types of crime novels are less concerned with dramatic flourishes and labyrinthine plots, and more interested in gritty portrayals of crime as though they were real. For a good introduction to the sub-genre, hop in to your local library and pick any of Ed McBain's "82nd Precinct" series at random. Or start with this one. It takes place in Sweden, but being written by Swedish authors who didn't seem to have any mind for an international audience, it doesn't come across as a travelogue. Our hero is Martin Beck, and that's what he's called throughout the whole book. You'll see a lot of phrases like, "Kollberg and Martin Beck." I have no idea why the authors chose to refer to him in that manner, but it's grown on me. Martin Beck is investigating a murder, a beautiful woman. But no-one has reported her missing, no-one has seen what happened to her, and no-one knows how she ended up at the bottom of a canal. The clues are filled in, some sooner than others, and all thanks to Martin Beck and a little luck. Luck usually has no place in crime novels - it's a bit of a cheat if Phillip Marlowe was interrogating a tough suspect only to have the murder weapon drop in his lap out of pure chance. But it works well in procedurals because difficult real-life crime cases are often solved with a bit of luck. I was quite absorbed in this book, which is great because I've started and stopped reading a few books this week and was beginning to think I wouldn't have anything for the Book Crowd. If your idea of crime is Ian Rankin or Agatha Christie, do yourself a favour and enjoy a change of pace. You might find yourself in a whole new world of crime fiction. Publisher: Orion Books Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

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