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Monday, December 21, 2009

Roseanna. Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo. Gollancz Crime (1965)


A gripping, low key Swedish police procedural. A woman's body is dredged from a Swedish canal, she had been murdered. The lack of an identity hampers the investigation, eventually she is identified and the investigation has a crucial starting point. The police team, lead by First Detective Inspector Martin Beck, slowly and steadily pursue the murderer. The final phase of the investigation involves the police taking severe risks to capture the suspect and the conclusion is tense and fierce.
The action in the story, other than the climax, is steady and thoughtful. The investigation is driven by routine and extensive search efforts to establish and confirm information. The stubborn determination of Martin Beck and his team to find the killer drives the story. Martin Beck has a decaying relationship with his wife and a distant one with his children, the focus of his life is his work. He is a rather melancholy figure, he is forceful enough to be memorable as well. The rest of the cast are equally individual, they respond to the pressure of the case with professional fortitude yet they retain an angry hunger to catch the killer.
The story is gripping in the steady accumulation of detail about the Roseanna, the victim, and the way that luck, care, expertise all overlap in a very natural way to provide the breaks that drive the case forward. A really well constructed mystery, a credible investigation, tremendous sense of place and atmosphere and a great cast make this a great read. A top flight crime story.

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