Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Roseanna by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall

Reading Roseanna confirms that Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall were a hell of a great crime writing team.

Their publishers must have thought so, too. The pair went on to write nine more police procedurals featuring their fictional detective Martin Beck of the Swedish national police.

The story opens when workers repairing a set of locks connecting two lakes in Sweden’s inland waterway dredge up the naked body of a young woman.

Local police find no one in their small city who can identify the murdered woman. The investigation widens and Martin Beck is brought into the case.

Beck and his team figure the woman was a passenger on a cruise ship passing through the locks. The woman must have been killed on the boat and then dumped overboard.

The detectives determine which boat she was aboard and set about finding the the crew and other passengers. It is a long, painstaking process. Wahloo and Sjowall take their time yet make the police work fascinating.

Detective Martin Beck is an odd sort of hero. He is good at his job, but rather morose, always seems to have a cold, complains about the weather, and has no rapport with his wife and kids. He only connects with the guys he works with and even then he is a bit chilly.

Wahloo and Sjowall keep the story and its many clues and suspects clear and orderly. The authors had a clean, no nonsense writing style and the Lois Roth translation is well done.

Per Wahloo (1926-1975) and Maj Sjowall (1935-2020) were not only writing partners but also partners in life.

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