Recommended Reads: Martin Beck Mysteries

Friday, 18 February 2011

Martin Beck Mysteries

I'm a murder mystery lover, it's true. Poor genre novels, like mysteries, are often in that "guilty pleasure," shameful reading category. I'm not sure if I believe in that nonsense, I'm more of the mind that I should admit to loving what I love without shame!

In any case, the Martin Beck mystery novels by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö are absolutely fantastic. I first heard about them through Carly and then I did more research into Swedish crime fiction for a class project. As it turns out, the Martin Beck series is pretty famous. The couple who wrote them is often credited with changing the nature of detective novels: prior to their series, Sherlock Holmes-esque characters (brilliant solo detectives with amazed audiences) were the only kind of detectives featured in mystery novels. Martin Beck, the main character in Sjöwall and Wahlöö's books, works with a team of downtrodden, imperfect and jaded policemen in the city of Stockholm's murder investigation department. Sjöwall and Wahlöö's police procedurals were revolutionary in crime fiction literature. The stories are gritty and deeply critical of 1960's Swedish society. There's ten books in all; I've just finished the fifth and I can't wait to start the sixth. As Carly mentioned, the series is really addictive.

P.s. Jonathon Franzen is also a fan of the series, he wrote an introduction to the fourth book, The Laughing Policeman.

P.p.s. Thanks for all your get well messages! I'm feeling a bit better this morning.


elena gold said...

i love mysteries too- but mostly cannot seem to move beyond agatha christie. these look great!

Julie said...

ooh, swedish detective stories!! genrre reading can be seriously fun. They should sell them at Ikea, the juggernaut purveyors of Swedish culture.

claire said...

they sound awesome, erica. i am definitely going to check them out.

Bre said...

I'm always up for a new good read, thanks for the recommendations. Hope you feel better and enjoy your weekend!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recommendations, a good mystery book is always a fun thing!

Camila F.


Yay! I'm glad you've been reading them. I've tried a few other series since finishing this one, and while I've enjoyed them all, the Martin Beck series remains my favourite. It's so funny that I posted about my recent Scandinavian Mystery reading on the same day as this post! If you get hooked on the genre let me know, and I can give you more recommendations.

erica-knits said...

So glad there are so many mystery fans!

Carly, Ever since you mentioned them, I've been addicted. It's been slow reading because of school, but when I'm done I'll take you up on those recommendations!

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