Without doubt the husband and wife team Sjöwall-Wahlöö are the founders of modern Scandinavian crime fiction. Their masterful plots, fast moving story telling, and sly humor have been praised by critics and readers around the world. But in what way did Sjöwall-Wahlöö change the crime fiction genre?
First, Sjöwall-Wahlöö’s chief investigator Martin Beck is not a solo maverick. He is part of a team where all members are fully realized characters. The interaction within the team, as well as the setting in which the team operates, is as much in focus as the crime.
Further, the plot serves as a mirror to 1960's modern society. Sjöwall-Wahlöö have no intention to paint the world in black and white, where the honorable police investigators hunt down innately evil perpetrators.
Finally, Martin Beck is not a glamorous hero or a phenomenal genius. Instead we find a world-weary, dyspeptic man whose personal life is gradually disintegrating in the course of the series.
Times of London recently published a list of the 50 greatest crime writers ever. Sjöwall-Wahlöö are listed at place 15.
» Click on the links or the book covers below to read more about each title.
The Martin Beck series - In chronological order
- The Man Who Went Up in Smoke
- The Man on the Balcony
- The Laughing Policeman
- The Fire Engine That Disappeared
- Murder at the Savoy
- The Abominable Man
- The Locked Room
- Cop Killer
- The Terrorists