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The Fire Engine That Disappeared (The Martin Beck series, Book 5) [Kindle Edition]

Maj Sjöwall , Per Wahlöö
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The excellent fifth classic installment in the Martin Beck detective series from the 1960s – the novels that have inspired all Scandinavian crime fiction.

Widely recognised as the greatest masterpieces of crime fiction ever written, these are the original detective stories that pioneered the detective genre.

Gunvald Larsson sits carefully observing the dingy Stockholm apartment of a man under police surveillance. He looks at his watch: nine minutes past eleven in the evening. He yawns, slapping his arms to keep warm. At the same moment the house explodes, killing at least three people.

Chief Inspector Martin Beck and his men don't suspect arson or murder until they discover a peculiar circumstance and a link is established between the explosion and a suicide committed that same day, in which the dead man left a note consisting of just two words: Martin Beck.

Written in the 1960s, they are the work of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo – a husband and wife team from Sweden. The ten novels follow the fortunes of the detective Martin Beck, whose enigmatic, taciturn character has inspired countless other policemen in crime fiction. The novels can be read separately, but do follow a chronological order, so the reader can become familiar with the characters and develop a loyalty to the series. Each book has a new introduction in order to help bring these books to a new audience.


Books In This Series (10 Books)
Complete Series

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    Review

    ‘Superbly well done. It stars the gloomy head of homicide, Martin Beck, and is stunning right up to the last paragraph. The authors are ready for the great Simenon.’ New York Magazine

    ‘The tale proceeds at a fast clip, inventive and tantalizing as the pieces of the puzzle alternately fit together and fly apart…“The Fire Engine that Disappeared” is downright fascinating.’ Publishers Weekly

    'A gripping read, brilliantly plotted and with frequent moments of hilarity or tenderness.' The Guardian

    Praise for Sjöwall and Wahlöö:

    ‘Plots are interesting as well as realistic, the various homicide men are admirably characterised, and the amused, sarcastic comments on modern Sweden are a delight.’ Sunday Times

    ‘The writing is elegant and surprisingly humorous – if you haven’t come across Beck before, you’re in for a treat.’ Guardian

    ‘One of the most authentic, gripping and profound collections of police procedurals ever accomplished.’ Michael Connelly

    Review

    ‘Superbly well done. It stars the gloomy head of homicide, Martin Beck, and is stunning right up to the last paragraph. The authors are ready for the great Simenon.’ New York Magazine

    ‘The tale proceeds at a fast clip, inventive and tantalizing as the pieces of the puzzle alternately fit together and fly apart…“The Fire Engine that Disappeared” is downright fascinating.’ Publishers Weekly

    'A gripping read, brilliantly plotted and with frequent moments of hilarity or tenderness.' The Guardian

    Praise for Sjowall & Wahloo:

    ‘Plots are interesting as well as realistic, the various homicide men are admirably characterised, and the amused, sarcastic comments on modern Sweden are a delight.’ Sunday Times

    ‘The writing is elegant and surprisingly humorous – if you haven’t come across Beck before, you’re in for a treat.’ Guardian

    ‘One of the most authentic, gripping and profound collections of police procedurals ever accomplished.’nMichael Connelly


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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best 27 July 2013
    Format:Paperback
    There is a bit of inconsistency in the Martin Beck series but this is a brilliant read, the sour comments about Swedish society are spiced with a bit of humour, and the best joke in the 10 volumes involves a Bohemian sculptress's magnum opus. Any fan of Scandinavian noir on TV will enjoy finding out where it all comes from, this edition has the air of a school textbook with a bit too much exposition for my liking, but is nicely presented and the translation is competent.
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    8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of the Beck series 24 Oct. 2007
    By Alexander Leach VINE VOICE
    Format:Paperback
    Alongside the first book Roseanna, and The Man on the Balcony, this is among the best of the Martin Beck decalogue.

    The story is quite wide-ranging in geography and plot, with interesting procedural details. And all the regulars are present, including Melander and the bear-like Gunvald Larsson, plus the inept Kristiansson and Kvant for slight comic relief. A new recruit, Benny Skacke is introduced. Recommended.
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    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    I enjoy the continuity of the base story thread running in the background of each of the Beck books and feel the characters are like old colleagues or acquaintances. It's amusing to read about the quirks of each character and their foibles and how they all work together to solve the crimes. These books are easy reading but gripping, and having a fair amount of knowledge of the geography of Sweden helps me to imagine the places the detectives find themselves. I enjoy Scandinavian crime novels and these are a fabulous new find for me. It's a pity that Per Wahloo is no longer alive to continue the stories with Maj Sjowall. I will read the rest of the series with relish, and I know I will mourn when I have finished them all.
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    3.0 out of 5 stars Fades at the end 30 Oct. 2012
    By Jl Adcock TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
    Format:Paperback
    Book 5 in the much-acclaimed Martin Beck series finds the authors really hitting their stride in terms of pace and style. Clearly influenced by the police procedurals of Ed McBain, there is a snap to the dialogue here and a nice sense of dark humour that was there in the earlier novels, but just not done so effectively in those as it is here.

    Martin Beck remains central to the proceedings, although in this particular story most of the detective work is done by colleagues, and the focus seems more on the disintegration of Beck's home life, and the fact that the only person in his family he can connect with is his daughter, and she is on the verge of leaving home to travel.

    The social observations and comments on life in Sweden in the late sixties (this book in the series is set in 1968) are interesting, but don't date the book too much, so it's the actual story and detection that takes centre stage, which is how it should be.

    Up until the end, the plot is tightly woven and well-handled, but as with previous volumes in the Beck series, there is a tendency for major developments in the plot to fade a little towards the end, which is disappointing.

    The "PS" section of the paperback edition contains some excellent supplementary information on police procedural novels and other books worthy of interest, and is something to read, rather than skip over in my view. The introduction from Colin Dexter, frankly, adds little, and can be ignored without spoiling the book.
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    5.0 out of 5 stars Another perfect police procedural 6 Aug. 2012
    Format:Paperback
    A loud suicide without a final note, but on a notebook 2 words are written: Martin Beck(MB). The deceased's name means nothing to MB. He had no police record. Gunvald Larsson(GL) relieves a patrolman on a cold, nightly stake out. The target, an isolated building housing at least 11 persons, explodes in his face. GL saves 8 people from the flames, injuring himself, before the fire brigade arrives. Three dead.
    Early research focused on a certain Malm, under surveillance for the past 10 days, who lived on the ground floor. Together with one Olofsson (not seen in weeks) he was suspected of handling stolen goods, esp. cars. GL is convinced the fire was premeditated. MB's team thinks not: after all, GL is badly concussed and in hospital.
    When a tell-tale item is found in Malm's mattress and the coroner reports that his body was burnt on both sides, MB's team shifts gears and follows up all clues, traces and tips, each member doing the work he is best at. Lots of leg work of individual team members yield tiny results suggesting a foreign angle, a maffia-like gang. The final breakthroughs are made by inspector Mansson in Malmö and MB himself in Copenhagen, Denmark.
    MB's team solves the mystery of the suicide's last words and much else. The book ends painfully for ambitious newcomer Benny Skacke and his cynical mentor, Lennart Kollberg.
    S&W broke new ground bemoaning the role of law enforcement in a democracy. At first, they mocked uniformed police, with their average IQ of 93. Its stupidity and violence are highlighted in books 3-10. Their soft moaning develops in ever louder howling and shrieking about incompetence in higher circles in the later books. The 10 S&W books can be read in any order, but doing so from 1-10 gives added value.
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    4.0 out of 5 stars Character counts for a lot 1 Feb. 2012
    By Ragnar VINE VOICE
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    This is the fifth book in the Martin beck series. The title comes from a toy which one of the officers, Einar Rönn, gave to his young son. There is another fire engine which also disappeared in that it failed to arrive at the scene of a fire because it was directed to the wrong address. Two for the price of one!

    There is a fire in a building occupied by quite a few people in different apartments. The outbreak is noticed by Gunvald Larsson who, at great danger to himself, rescues several of the occupants. He is there because the police are keeping an eye on a small-time criminal who lives there. Larsson's heroics don't seem to impress himself too much, despite the burns to his hands and concussion. Neither do they impress his colleague, Lennart Kollberg, who has a strong antipathy to Larsson.

    As the book progresses, Beck, Kollberg and Larsson all advance the investigation, each in his own way. Though it appears that the suspect committed suicide by gas inhalation and it was gas which caused the fire, none of them are wholly convinced. Larsson interviews as many of the occupants as he can while still on sick leave, and forensics show that though the suspect had intended to kill himself the fire had been an attempt to kill him. Is this death connected to the man found dead in Malmö harbour and the suicide of man whom Beck had never heard of but who had, nonetheless, written down his phone number?

    Because of the body in the harbour, the Stockholm officers secure the help of an officer from Malmö, Per Månsson, who provides a great deal of information, both from his home town and from an artist in Copenhagen with whom, and at her invitation, he also sleeps before getting down to official business.
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