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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beck's Budapest
I've set myself to read the whole ten books in this series. I love the stripped down nature of the writing and the dialogue is realistic too - sardonic banter among cops, sometimes nonsensical.

It's easy to see where Mankell get his influences from. There's a sadness in the way Beck goes about his life. His marriage doesn't look healthy. He packs a bottle...
Published on 28 July 2011 by Gargoyle

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather a let down
This book came as rather a disappointment. I had read numerous critical appraisals of the series of ten novels by Swedish husband and wife team, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, featuring the reserved Inspector Martin Beck, and had also enjoyed the first instalment in the series, 'Roseanna'.

Here, however, Sjowall and Wahloo seemed to lose their way, being bogged...
Published 1 month ago by James Brydon


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beck's Budapest, 28 July 2011
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This review is from: The Martin Beck series (2) - The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (Paperback)
I've set myself to read the whole ten books in this series. I love the stripped down nature of the writing and the dialogue is realistic too - sardonic banter among cops, sometimes nonsensical.

It's easy to see where Mankell get his influences from. There's a sadness in the way Beck goes about his life. His marriage doesn't look healthy. He packs a bottle of whisky when he goes travelling.

I think the Budapest passages work well. Beck's alienation is, if anything, made more stark by his being planted in a foreign city.

The solution to the mystery is delivered in dead pan style - Beck, his colleague and the murderer sitting about in a room till the truth emerges. No heroics.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars wonderfully under-stated police procedural, 12 May 2012
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
The Man Who Went Up in Smoke is a curious book. The edition I read is 198 pages long and for the first 80 or so very little happens. The narrative focuses on mundane, everyday life - Beck's increasingly distant relationship with his family, his ambivalence towards his job, getting to know a new city. There are no dramatic events, no sudden revelations or twists and turns, no quickening of the pace. In this sense, the pacing and observations mimic Beck himself, who finds it difficult to summon any interest or enthusiasm for the case. And yet the story is captivating. Sjowall and Wahloo's prose has a calm but insistent cadence as they immerse the reader in Beck's world and the cities of Stockholm and Budapest. They portray a terrific sense of atmosphere and place. In the second half of the book, there is a shift in pace as the clues start to be aligned and people start to react to Beck's investigation. A wonderfully under-stated police procedural.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changing the Police Procedural, 21 July 2014
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Husband and wife team Per Wahloo (who is now no longer with us) and Maj Sjowall penned the Martin Beck crime series, and in the process they are often thought of as the godparents of modern Scandinavian crime fiction, but really they are more than that. By the time they started writing police procedurals had been around for a long time, but where the Martin Beck series is different is the way in which the stories were told. Beck isn’t the greatest policeman ever, and knows it; he is just a normal copper doing his job. He doesn’t wok by himself, he is part of a team, and it shows as others do some of the investigating as well. Although by the last novel I believe he is divorced this book for instance isn’t full of family turmoil, instead you get the impression of two people just drifting apart, as is the case with most divorces. Apart for a few pages there isn’t really much mention of the family in this, as it centres on the actual case.

As with police work, private investigative work and so on most of the time is filled with legwork and going over paperwork, and this comes to the fore in this, so don’t expect some action packed tale, this is more lifelike with patience and determination being the key components of a good cop. After finishing off one case Beck is going away on leave, resting with the family and getting some fishing in and generally relaxing, but within twenty four hours his assistance is being called upon. A magazine is starting to make ripples as one of their journalists has suddenly vanished in Budapest, and thus Beck is pulled into a case by curiosity. Travelling to Budapest he sets out to find the missing man.

For Beck though, walking into a strange city in a foreign country could become fraught with danger, especially as he senses that he is being watched. Eventually making contact with the Hungarian police there just seems to be no sense in the disappearance of this particular man, but as the Hungarian police become more involved things are brought to a head, but still with no explanation for a missing man.

This is a good mystery as well as being well written, and despite for some the lack of action may be a disappointment, this is meticulously plotted. Beck plods on and on, never giving up until he can find a satisfactory conclusion and his doggedness draws you into this story.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The second in this classic series, 28 Jan 2007
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A Reader (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martin Beck series (2) - The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (Paperback)
Book two, and Martin Beck spends a lot of time on foreign soil. Despite this, we get more familiar with all the characters and the whole gestalt... Beck's failing marriage, his closeness with colleagues, especially Lennart Kollberg. Not as great as Roseanna, but still very, very good. Look out for the introduction of that wonderfully goofy pair, Kristiansson and Kvant - "who pop in and out of the series with the grisly inevitability of a pair of Shakespearean gravediggers"!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 22 Dec 2011
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bookworm8 "bookworm8" (UK) - See all my reviews
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I was recommended a while ago to try the Martin Beck series and I am so glad I took the advice. I am really enjoying them and recommend them highly for anyone interested in police procedurals and thoughtful detective stories. The plots are well worked out but the best aspect for me is the development of the main character, Martin Beck, and his interaction with his wife and family, and his colleagues. Very believable, very engaging, very worthwhile buying!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unflinching ,microscopically detailed classic police novel., 29 Oct 2011
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This is the second book in the Martin Beck series of Swedish police proceedural crime novels.This is from 1966 and mainly deals with Beck searching Cold War Budapest for a missing Swedish Journalist.

Stylistically detatched,unflinching,coldly clinical and microscopically detailed,This series is unlike anything I have read before,superficially simple,yet deep occasionally funny and thought-provoking.

This new edition features an interesting introduction by Val McDermid with articles,context and further reading guides.Of interest is a piece on how the husband and wife writing team actually planned and wrote the books with reproductions of their notes.

The first and best of the Nordic crime novelists,Sjowall and Wahloo's books are intelligent,individual,quirky and concise(198 pages-the product description is wrong).Warning:You will probably want all 10 so savour them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Swedish crime series stands the test of time, 27 Feb 2011
By 
Maxine Clarke "Maxine of Petrona" (Kingston upon Thames, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martin Beck series (2) - The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (Paperback)
The classic series of ten books about Swedish policeman Martin Beck and his team is so often held up as the epitome of crime writing: the turning point between the "golden age" of the hero detective and the modern police-procedural, that one wonders if the praise is overstated. And can the books stand the test of time? The first few were written in the 1960s, in a time before the internet, email, mobile phones, faxes that we take for granted and have come to expect as the aides to modern detection.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first of the series, ROSEANNA, but felt that one book was not enough to form an opinion of the whole series. But after the second marvellous volume, THE MAN WHO WENT UP IN SMOKE, I'm convinced.
Martin Beck is interrupted from a holiday about which he feels at the best ambivalent, and asked by his boss to go to Hungary to see if he can find a journalist, Alf Matsson, who has mysteriously disappeared. Beck is not too upset about this, and goes off - somewhat hampered by the need for discretion requested by Matsson's editor and which has been agreed by Beck's superiors as well as the security services in the Iron Curtain era.
Quite a large part of the book features Beck's Hungarian experience: the pockets of faded grandeur such as the hotel where he stays and the old steamers that remain from happier times before the Soviet invasion. He is convinced he is being followed, and soon enough he encounters the local police in the form of the enigmatic Vilmos Szluka. Gradually, the two men drop their mutual suspicion and develop a respect of each other's methods. As they begin to compare notes openly, Beck begins to see a few leads. He follows one or two of these, which seem to turn out to be red herrings, before eventually returning home, none the wiser.
The second, and shorter, part of the book is about the continuing investigation back in Sweden, where Beck is assisted by his intelligent and solid (metaphorically and literally) colleague Kollberg, and others from his team. As in ROSEANNA, the detectives don't give up, they doggedly explore every lead, work on every angle - and in the end, by dint of questioning everyone and everything connected with the missing man, a refusal to take any description at face value, and intelligent reasoning, Beck works out what happened. It isn't all unglamorous police work: inspiration plays its part, an intuition possible because it is built on the solid foundations of evidence that the team have inexorably built up. The answer isn't what we at first suspected, but in retrospect, it all fits together perfectly with the careful plotting throughout the earlier parts of the story.
This book is marvellous: I can't wait to read the rest. Joan Tate is to be congratulated for her smooth translation from the Swedish, and Harper Perennial is similarly to be admired for the new edition, containing an introduction (by Val McDermid), a retrospective and an interview with the authors. Would that all books were so thoughtfully produced, with this type of welcome additional richness for the reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Swedish/Hungarian Mystery, 24 Sep 2010
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This review is from: The Martin Beck series (2) - The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (Paperback)
Having recently discovered the Martin Beck series, I found this an absorbing and engaging read. Martin Beck's holiday is rudely interrupted and he is assigned to invesitgate the disappearance of a Swedish journalist in Budapest. Sjowall and Wahloo paint a vivid picture of 1960s Budapest and introduce us to a number of interesting characters, not least the Hungarian police officer who Beck works with to try and discover what has happened to his compatriot. Once I started reading, I found this book very difficult to put down and would definitely recommend it, along with the rest of the series, to anyone who enjoys Scandinavian crime novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping!, 18 Dec 2012
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I'm new to Sjowall & Wahloo. I must admit that I am surprised that the novels were first published in the 1960's. Their writing still seems fresh and current. This was my second read in the Martin Beck series. The story is gripping and I found myself reading well into the night to complete it in one sitting. I would highly recommend the novels to any Scandinavian crime fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quietly effective thriller, 5 Sep 2012
At their best these books have a great no fuss, straightforwardness. These are police procedurals with little in the way of histrionics, leftfield plot twists or characters whose motivations don't have much relation to reality. The characters at the centre of these books are professionals who get on with their job - they interview the suspects, pull the pieces together and arrive at the correct conclusion. Indeed in this volume even the reveal of the killer is done in an understated, without thrills way - which actually in its ordinariness I found grippingly tense. And the fact that - without literal or metaphoric explosions - these books can bring me to bite my fingernails probably explains their success. These are quietly effective thrillers.

A Swedish journalist disappears in Hungary and Martin Beck is sent to investigate. The foreign locale takes him away from his support network and places him more as a lone man in a disaffecting city. In a way this give the book a Chandler-esque feel (and I wonder if Philip Kerr read it before creating his Marlowe as European cop character, Bernie Gunther). It's a story with a strong - if subdued - emotional core, but no sentiment (for a book written by journalists, it really gives an unromantic portrayal of the profession). As Martin Beck tries to get to grips with possible murder behind the Iron Curtain, the tension builds and a genuinely intriguing and tense tale unfolds.
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The Martin Beck series (2) - The Man Who Went Up in Smoke
The Martin Beck series (2) - The Man Who Went Up in Smoke by Per Wahlöö (Paperback - Aug 2006)
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