The Laughing Policeman (1968) by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (translated by Alan Blair)

Roseanna was followed by “The Man Who Went Up In Smoke”, an investigation of the disappearance of a journalist with a Croftsian style methodology and solution (although Inspector French was never propositioned in any way and certainly not in a manner this explicit) and “The Man on the Balcony”, a tale of city under the shadow of a serial child-killer, and then we come onto the fourth and the most lauded of the Martin Beck dectet.

Eight passengers are killed and one wounded when someone opens fire on a bus late one night. The work of a madman? Or does the presence of one of Martin Beck’s officers, given his particular talent, point to something more subtle?

This can be read as a standalone but the benefit of reading it in order is that you feel more for the characters, both the dead man and his colleagues.

Kvant and Kristiansson, the unlikely heroes of the previous book, become the hapless villains of the piece following their discovery of the crime scene. We see a more human side to one-man wrecking ball Gunvald Larsson. Martin Beck is more depressed though his relationship with his teenage daughter seems to be good even if he isn’t amused by the comic record of the title which she gives him for Christmas.

How the key pieces of evidence are pulled together is beautifully done and by the time you reach the final line you may laugh with Beck or you may want to cry for what might have been.

To sum up, this is a police procedural par excellence.




One thought on “The Laughing Policeman (1968) by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (translated by Alan Blair)”

  1. I really like this series, and plan to reread some more. I reread one or two. I know a lot of mystery fans don’t like the series, as it’s not puzzle centric, but they have every other virtue.
    K and K are great comic relief.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: