{Review} The Laughing Policeman – Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö

23 Nov

After several weeks of the frivolity of Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Wimsey, it was time to settle down with a more serious crime novel. What better than a classic Swedish detective novel to sober me up! As we had two copies of this crime story at home, it seemed a good idea to read one of them before giving it away. 🙂
Fourth in the Martin Beck series (but the first novel from it that I’ve read). It was very easy to slide into the novel without getting lost or confused or not knowing things that had been mentioned in previous novels.

This novel opens with the gunning down of a busload of people, including Stenström, a police officer who is a member of Stockholm Homicide Division. What follows is a near-perfect textbook investigation to find out not only who committed the murder, but why.

The “Laughing Policeman” theme of the novel’s title sprung up from time to time and felt a little forced at first- until the novel came to a close. Then I couldn’t help but join in with the song’s chorus…

It was beautifully crafted- the title popping up as a refrain throughout (intentional use of refrain). Each detective a careful blend of intelligence and melancholy. It is, without  doubt, a classic. And yet there are some parts that don’t seem to deliver as much as I would have liked. There is no real social commentary, in spite of there being ample opportunity to expand on some of the points scattered throughout.

Overall: A corking example of a true “policier“. One for fans of Arnaldur Indriðason

Read as part of Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge, 2016.


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