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Roseanna (The Martin Beck series) [Paperback]

Maj Sjowall , Per Wahloo , Henning Mankell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Jun 2011

The first book in the classic Martin Beck detective series from the 1960s – the novels that shaped the future of Scandinavian crime writing.

Hugely acclaimed, the Martin Beck series were the original Scandinavian crime novels and have inspired the writings of Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo.

Written in the 1960s, 10 books completed in 10 years, they are the work of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö – a husband and wife team from Sweden. They follow the fortunes of the detective Martin Beck, whose enigmatic, taciturn character has inspired countless other policemen in crime fiction; without his creation Ian Rankin’s John Rebus or Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander may never have been conceived. The novels can be read separately, but are best read in chronological order, so the reader can follow the characters’ development and get drawn into the series as a whole.

‘Roseanna’ begins on a July afternoon, the body of a young woman is dredged from Sweden's beautiful Lake Vattern. Three months later, all that Police Inspector Martin Beck knows is that her name is Roseanna, that she came from Lincoln, Nebraska, and that she could have been strangled by any one of eighty-five people.

With its authentically rendered settings and vividly realized characters, and its command over the intricately woven details of police detection, ‘Roseanna’ is a masterpiece of suspense and sadness.

Frequently Bought Together

Roseanna (The Martin Beck series) + The Man Who Went Up In Smoke (A Martin Beck) + The Man on the Balcony (The Martin Beck series, Book 3)
Price For All Three: £19.17

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (23 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007439113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007439119
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘They changed the genre. Whoever is writing crime fiction after these novels is inspired by them in one way or another.’ Henning Mankell

‘If you haven’t read Sjöwall/Wahlöö, start now.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Pick up one book…and you become unhinged. You want to block out a week of your life, lie to your boss, and stay in bed, gorging on one after another.’ Observer

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

About the Author

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, both left-wing journalists and politically radical, met in 1961 while working for magazines published by the same company. They married the next year and together created the Martin Beck crime series, famously writing alternate chapters at night after putting their children to bed. Wahlöö died at the age of 49 just as their 10th book was going to press. Sjöwall currently lives in Sweden and continues to work as a writer and translator. They won the esteemed Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Crime Fiction Book in 1971.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
118 of 119 people found the following review helpful
By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
facts are what we need." Crane Wilbur

Facts are few and far between for Detective Inspector Martin Beck in "Roseanna". A girl's body is found by a dredger in a lock near Sweden's Lake Vattern. The body is naked and there are no clues as to her identity and the reasons for her death. Martin Beck is called up from Stockholm to assist the local authorities in their investigation. Through a process of time-consuming grunt work and dogged determination Beck and his colleagues try first to find the pieces to this jigsaw puzzle of a mystery. They first have to identify the dead girl. Next they have to identify the crime scene (one of a number of passenger ferries). Finally the have to identify a possible suspect out of more than eighty potential killers.

The pace of the book tracks the pace of the investigation. In the first few months of the case little progress is made. However, this affords the readers the opportunity to get a glimpse of Beck and his colleague's character and personalities as they go about the daily grind of their police work. The pace quickens and the excitement mounts as the jigsaw puzzle pieces begin to fall into place.

Roseanna was the first in a series of ten Martin Beck mysteries written by the Swedish, husband and wife team of Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall. The plot and structure of the four Beck mysteries I've read to date do not deviate from the standard format found in any well-written police procedural. However, what sets the Beck mysteries apart is their location and character development. Naturally enough, each book is a small window into Swedish life and culture in the 1960s and 1970s when the books were written.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Precise Police Procedural 29 Oct 2006
Roseanna is the first in the series of the 'Martin Beck' series and was published in 1968. The series has provided inspiration for writers such as Graham Greene and Henning Mankell.

When the body of a young woman is dredged up from Lake Vattern in Sweden, Detective Inspector Martin Beck is called in to find the killer. The girl could have been raped or strangled by any of about 80 possible suspects, and so the painstaking process begins.

Initailly I had a few dificulties with the stlye of the writing and the absolute precision, like for example, people entering rooms at three minutes to five or car journeys that take five minutes 40 seconds. However, I did get used to it and came to quite enjoy the report-like accuracy with which the novel is written.

The real frustrations of police investigation was apparent and the book included details of weeks where nothing much happened, which was actually quite refreshing and gave the novel a feeling of authenticity.

Police procedure might have moved on drastically since the sixties, what with computers, email and the like, but strangely 'Roseanna' doesn't seem to have dated that badly.

Don't expect flowery language or much description. The only detail in the book is that which is absolutley necessary! Saying that, there were some very nice touches...a detective that shows something of his frailty was unusual and well written.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Martin Beck Arrives 8 Aug 2004
By Westley
"Roseanna" introduces Martin Beck, an overworked but brilliant Swedish policeman. When the body of a young woman is found in a nearby lake, Beck is called in to assist. The case proves frustrating, and months pass before any progress is made. Fortunately, Beck is persistent and sticks with the case, even as it begins to haunt his life. Originally released in 1967, the plot doesn't rely on high-tech police techniques - just good old-fashioned story-telling.
Married authors Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo crafted this fine novel, as well as subsequent entries in the Martin Beck series. The style of writing is sometimes dry and always factual, which adds a great deal of realism to the story. At times, the translation is somewhat awkward, particularly in the dialogue, but it doesn't detract much from the overall impact of the book. Crime Masterworks has re-released the series, and as always they've done a beautiful job. Recommended for fans of police/detective stories - I intend to read more entries in the series.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant start to a great series! 28 Jan 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A forceful and brilliant start to this classic series of 'police procedurals'. This is highly enjoyable storytelling, with the procedural aspect very much to the fore. Fans of Henning Mankell's Inspector Wallender series should check this out - it's the inspirational Ur text. If anything, the story of the husband-and-wife team of Swedish Marxists who wrote the series is even more fascinating, and there's plenty of material on them at the back of the book. For me, this was THE find of 2006.

The series should be read in order. Next up is: The Man Who Went up in Smoke.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this wonderful series of crime novels 13 Nov 2007
If you like Ian Rankin, Kurt Wallender, Arnaldur Indridason et al, then this is the first novel in the series from the sixties and seventies that must have given them all inspiration! Martin Beck is the laconic detective with a set of well drawn colleagues who take turns to move centre stage during the 10 book series set mainly in Stockholm, with a couple of Keystone Cops from Solna for light comedy.
An absolute treat and I can't wait till Feb 08 for the reissue of the last two in the series..........
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting and atmospheric.
Published 17 days ago by Janet Handcock
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read
This is the first Martin Beck I've read after listening to the dramatisations on radio. I like the writing style, very low key but building to a tense ending. Read more
Published 24 days ago by jmdalcock
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Excellent value and a good read
Published 26 days ago by Kindle Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Compared to Mankell and others these 'Beck'books are a tad ...
Compared to Mankell and others these 'Beck'books are a tad tame and dated. I would not buy another one, but if you offered me a new Mankell book I would just have to have it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mark Cribb
5.0 out of 5 stars Apparently the start of the Nordic Noir school of writing ...
Apparently the start of the Nordic Noir school of writing I confess that they passed me by in the 60's. Read more
Published 1 month ago by MRS P A Clewett
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
excellent and very good value. thank you.
Published 1 month ago by donald.lindgren
5.0 out of 5 stars Soul man.
Martin Beck is gritty yet has a soul.
Published 1 month ago by J. Nenova
2.0 out of 5 stars Swedish crime
Good intro. to Martin Beck.
Published 2 months ago by D. J. Young
1.0 out of 5 stars Verrrrrrrrrry slow
A Swedish friend bought me this some years ago and I forgot to read it. Beginning to wish I'd never found it in the cupboard. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Galning
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great read
Published 2 months ago by Allan McFarlane
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