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117 of 118 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Well, intuition isn't much help in police work
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...
Published on 4 Jan 2007 by Leonard Fleisig

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor translation spoils this
I wanted to read the series of books that started the Scandinavian Crime phenomenon and so bought this with much anticipation, especially given a glowing introduction by Henning Mankell. However, it is really hard work - the prose and plot are choppy and disjointed with the result that the story never seems to flow. The speech of characters is just plain weird. If you try...
Published 12 months ago by Nick


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117 of 118 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Well, intuition isn't much help in police work, 4 Jan 2007
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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. Further, as the series develops the character of Beck and his colleagues evolve and the reader slowly obtains a real feel for Beck and his fellow police officers.

Roseanna was not the best of the Beck books I've read but it was good enough that I stayed up a bit later than I should in order to finish it. Even thought this may not be the best of the bunch I do suggest that any reader new to the series start with Roseanna in order to appreciate the evolution of Beck and his family and fellow officers.

If you like police procedurals with a bit of an exotic flair you should enjoy the Martin Beck stories. They rank alongside Boris Akunin's Erast Fandorin series set in Russia and Georges Simenon's Maigret stories set in France as enjoyable, well-written stories set on distant shores. Recommended. L. Fleisig
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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
By 
Sarah Durston (London) - See all my reviews
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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 (Stuck in my head) - See all my reviews
"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
By 
A Reader (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
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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
By 
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fine start to an outstanding series, 11 Nov 2002
By 
Robin S. Hall (Ealing, London, UK) - See all my reviews
This is the first of the Martin Beck novels by Sjöwell and Wahlöö, and whilst not the best, it is a great introduction to the series. Beck is the classic flawed personality detective (think of Endeavour Morse, Kurt Wallander, Matt Scudder, Andy Dalziel or John Rebus) whose personal life is subsumed and eventually broken up by obsession about work - could Beck be the first example of this genre? It provides an interesting exposure to Swedish society (albeit twenty years ago). The translation is mostly acccurate, though this sometimes misses a key point (for example, the "adult" content of the prime suspect's favorite magazine is not evident to those unaware of Swedish publications). Thoroughily recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the start of the best you're going to get, 1 Nov 2007
By 
For characterization I have to this day not found anybody coming close to the Sjowall and Wahloo team, and I read these as they came out in Sweden from the 1960's onwards. The decalogy is the mother and father of all modern police procedurals: Impeccably researched and presented without resorting to cheap tricks. Over the ten books you will come to know the morose Martin Beck, the newly married sidekick Lennart Kollberg and the rest and they are not only believable, it's difficult to believe that they are not real people. Today authors make it easy: Hero likes jazz or some other obscure or peculiar music; drinks a specific single malt; is divorced; drives a funny car etc. You won't find that here. These characters are for real. Try to read the books in order and you will be following the policemen's life over the ten years it took to write the series. Roseanna might not be the best, but for the next six books, or so, it is five stars all the way until towards the end the politics of the authors begins to be a little bit irritating. However, these books are not beaten yet. Rankin, Robinson, Harvey and Mankell have got more than a thing or two to learn.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not to be dismissed lightly, 26 Aug 2012
This review is from: Roseanna (The Martin Beck series) (Paperback)
A few months ago, I showed a film about King Arthur to some Y10 boys. Several of them complained that the story was "totally copied" from The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I tried in vain to explain (a) that King Arthur came first, and (b) that there are some ideas which remain fundamental to human life, and to certain types of story, but they were having none of it.

From reading reviews on here, it seems that people are suffering from the same syndrome when reading these books, and I thought it would be a good idea to discuss some of the points raised.

Some reviews have taken issue with the fact that these books are "historical" fiction or "nostalgia". The point is that they were written between 1965 and 1975, and are contemporary with when they are written. So, yes, they are period pieces, which reflect life and attitudes in Sweden at that time but, no, you don't have to familiar with the era or culture to appreciate them. They portray the world of 40 years ago, but they have not dated in terms of human nature and actions at all.
It is agreed that in many ways these police procedurals by Jowall and Wahloo set the standard for Scandinavian crime fiction - they are the giants upon whose shoulders Mankell, Larsson, Nesbo, and others have stood. So when you read them, you will see elements which are familiar if you have read more recent writers first. For me, that means that I don't particularly want to read the modern ones again, because I feel that the Beck series has everything I need. Others won't feel that way, obviously, but people should not be hostile to this series just because it's not modern.

Some reviews have complained that these books are too short. It is true that there was a period of popular fiction when people were mostly writing shorter books, and that we now expect more for our money. I don't see that this should prejudice one against any given book, though. These novels are not bloated with excessive descriptive passages or lengthy deep psychological musings; they are subtle and precise, with no wasted words, and repay careful attention.
If that is not enough to console those who desire their books to be epic, then it is worth remembering that the ten books were conceived by the authors as a whole series, planned out in advance. So one is meant to read all ten, in order, to see the full development of Martin Beck and the other characters, and to appreciate how society changed just in those ten years, with particular focus on social values (mentioned specifically by a number of characters as a central issue) but also technology and standards of living, etc.. Each novel can be read alone and make sense, but you would be missing something, because as a series they form a perfect whole.
It is worth noting also that you can read them all in one go and enjoy it without feeling dreary, whereas I found that was not possible with more recent series, notably Wallander.

I do not read Swedish, so I am not able to judge how well the translations reflect the tone of the originals. On the whole they are very readable, with only the occasional awkward word or phrase (particularly true with non-verbal vocalisations, which any linguist knows vary from culture to culture - I was genuinely puzzled at one point as to what sound and mood were conveyed by the utterance "aingh", for instance). The way the little boy's speech is done in The Man on the Balcony, or the inarticulate answers of the dying man in The Laughing Policeman, are surely masterpieces of the translator's art.
One reviewer has taken exception to the repetition of Martin Beck's name in its full form. I did not find this a problem, but wonder if it might be something to do with a differing cultural attitude to names (see, notably, the preface to Indridason's Jar City on Icelandic names). I wonder also, though, if it is because Martin Beck is our touchstone: there will be an entire sequence of action or conversation in which he isn't mentioned although he is there, then he will be mentioned, and it brings closure to the episode - or at least a realignment of viewpoint.

I would strongly recommend these novels. They are not light reading for people who like racy crime fiction, but should appeal to those who like subtle police procedural which is full of observational detail. They are not whodunnits - the reader may be a few pages ahead of the detectives in intuition, but essentially we have to follow procedure and find things out as they do.
Also, they are not unremittingly dark or pessimistic - though in places we are shown the full nastiness of what people can do to themselves and others - and have a clear human warmth; there are nice moments of genuine humour. Martin Beck is not a self-destructive maverick, but a good hard-working bloke who doesn't always get it right, who has good relationships with his colleagues, even trying to be polite to the ones who don't deserve it (and even they have their redeeming features!).

A nice thing about this series also is that each book has an introduction by a modern crime-writer, talking about the legacy of the Martin Beck series and the role of that story. These pieces in themselves are really interesting, though in some cases I wished I hadn't read them first, as some contain spoilers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Well, intuition isn't much help in police work, 11 Jan 2007
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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. Further, as the series develops the character of Beck and his colleagues evolve and the reader slowly obtains a real feel for Beck and his fellow police officers.

Roseanna was not the best of the Beck books I've read but it was good enough that I stayed up a bit later than I should in order to finish it. Even thought this may not be the best of the bunch I do suggest that any reader new to the series start with Roseanna in order to appreciate the evolution of Beck and his family and fellow officers.

If you like police procedurals with a bit of an exotic flair you should enjoy the Martin Beck stories. They rank alongside Boris Akunin's Erast Fandorin series set in Russia and Georges Simenon's Maigret stories set in France as enjoyable, well-written stories set on distant shores. Recommended. L. Fleisig
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor translation spoils this, 20 Aug 2013
By 
Nick "clubenic" (Stevenage, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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I wanted to read the series of books that started the Scandinavian Crime phenomenon and so bought this with much anticipation, especially given a glowing introduction by Henning Mankell. However, it is really hard work - the prose and plot are choppy and disjointed with the result that the story never seems to flow. The speech of characters is just plain weird. If you try imagining it said out loud or actually try reading it out loud, the language is stilted and unnatural.
Not being able to read this in the original language means that we are at the mercy of the translator. This translator is obviously American and uses a strange outdated vernacular that woulda suit only some people in USA. As a translation for global publication it just doesn't do the job. Perhaps if the novel were re-translated into modern global English then it would be a more worthwhile read. For me I doubt I will bother trying any other Martin Beck novels
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Roseanna (The Martin Beck series)
Roseanna (The Martin Beck series) by Per Wahloo (Paperback - 23 Jun 2011)
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