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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The summer of love in Stockholm
In the third in the series, Martin Beck is back on Swedish soil, and has been promoted. Unfortunately, it's not 'peace and love' for Beck and his colleagues Kollberg, Melander, et al. The crimes in this story are grisly, but there's a warmth and intimacy in the book - and the whole series - that is endearing. The story virtually reads itself, and there are (as in all...
Published on 28 Jan 2007 by A Reader

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sterile summer of love
Set in 1967, the contrast is between the 'Summer of Love' and the sleazy underbelly of Stockholm, patrolled by newly promoted Superintendent Beck. As fascinating as the crime and it's investigation is the response of Swedish society to this horrible set of sexually related murders. We have the Press hysteria, the vigilantes in the city parks and the policeman working...
Published on 5 Dec 2010 by Officer Dibble


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The summer of love in Stockholm, 28 Jan 2007
By 
A Reader (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
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In the third in the series, Martin Beck is back on Swedish soil, and has been promoted. Unfortunately, it's not 'peace and love' for Beck and his colleagues Kollberg, Melander, et al. The crimes in this story are grisly, but there's a warmth and intimacy in the book - and the whole series - that is endearing. The story virtually reads itself, and there are (as in all the books) comments of a political and societal nature that were true in 1967 and which still ring true today. Civilisation is in decline in Sweden - and by extension throughout the whole of the western world.

This edition of the series from Harper is very attractively designed, and the letter on the spines spell out the main character's name: MARTIN BECK. This is book R - the third in the series.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars simplicity itself..., 22 April 2003
If you are lucky enough to have read any of these books then you know their strength is the way they marry a "police procedural" novel to the driest of wit. Usually in such novels (McBain/Connelly/Cornwell/any other crime series in the last 30 years) you get one, possibly two interesting characters, often with plodding personal issues tacked on (what is it with American detectives that they must have this?) and a load of uninteresting characters there to supply plot detail. In the world of Martin Beck and friends, however, every single policeman or woman is captivating and memorable. You don't want the story to end, simple as that, you want to stay in their company. And the story itself? A killer is attacking children in a city. The cops have nothing, a lead is wasted at the start, and children die. Slowly (and entirely believably) the Police start to track him down. As simple as that. It is plotted with such economy and elegance that, although you and I have read dozens of these, your heart will be in your throat as the end nears. The book was written over 30 years ago but the style, characters and bone-dry black humour make this, and the others, as good as crime novels get. Tell me I'm wrong. Oh, and start worrying about the casting of the inevitable TV series..."Robbie Coletrane IS Martin Beck"...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Muggings and Murders, 27 Aug 2013
By 
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Man on the Balcony (The Martin Beck series, Book 3) (Paperback)
We enter the world of the late 1960's in Stockholm. The police solve their crimes with good hard police work, no DNA, no computers, and no social media. What they did have were telephones and their feet. Good, hard police work , long hours, but they often found their man and solved their crimes.

This is the world of Martin Beck. A not so happy policeman who loves/hates his job. He is good at it, and his colleagues are a mixture of obnoxious and obese. Melender who has the famous memory, Kollberg, who plods along and is awaiting the birth of his first child, Larrsson, the lout, the obnoxious and rude one, and Martin Beck the heart and soul of these men. Nine or ten muggings in parks have taken place, citizens are hurt and it is only time before someone is killed. And, then a young girl is found murdered, strangled and sexually abused. The murderer took her panties with him. The citizenry are up in arms, and, then, another young girl is murdered. No clues so far, until the mugger is found, and he was in the same park at the same time as the pediophile. He gives them a description of the murderer. Martin Beck, in the back of his mind, has something waiting to be remembered, released. And, when it is, then, everything turns around.

Maj Sjowall and her husband, (he died several years ago) have written a terrific police procedural. One by one the facts and clues are put together. We forget at times, that the lack of computers and DNA, could be a hindrance. It may take them awhile, but with good police work a fitting end is found. Martin Beck, in his mind has stored an important piece of information, and, all we are waiting for is the right time when the information is unleashed. This is the third in a series that has as it's focus, Martin Beck. Read them all.

Recommended. prisrob 08-27-13
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Someone is killing children in the park..., 14 July 2013
By 
John "John75222" (Leeds, Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Man on the Balcony (The Martin Beck series, Book 3) (Paperback)
I am playing catch-up with Martin Beck. In the last 30+ years I've read an awful lot of crime fiction and a number of the Scandi/Nordic/Icelandic noir genre. Of the three that I've read in the series so far this from a plot point of view is probably the weakest, however, Sjowall & Wahloo still manage to generate that feeling of frustration and time passing. You get the feeling that you're looking at an actual criminal investigation of these heinous crimes where clues are few and far between. There is a tension between the detectives that highlights their frustration in how difficult it is to solve a crime when you have no suspect. In the conclusion of the story there is a future echo into just how the 'Yorkshire ripper' was finally apprehended: i.e. Just dumb luck. The novel still adds to the development of the characters in the series and again the discussion at the end of the novel with Maj Sjowall and a critique of the story is extremely enlightening. Well worth the read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars social realism with a lovely cadence to the storytelling, 17 Aug 2012
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Man on the Balcony (The Martin Beck series, Book 3) (Paperback)
The Man on the Balcony is the third instalment of the Martin Beck series of police procedurals written by the husband and wife team of Sjowall and Wahloo between 1965-75. The books are characterised by an understated social realism. Beck and his colleagues are normal, everyday people with differing egos, foibles, frailties, talents and opinions, trying to balance work with their home lives. The investigation unfolds in fits and starts, with painstaking footwork, frustrating interviews, and little doses of luck. There's little machismo, no maverick geniuses and little in the way of heroics - just the police getting on and doing their jobs. In this book, Sjowall and Wahloo start to broaden out the focus from Beck to introduce more of the team and the characterisation is keenly observed. The plot is fairly standard police procedural fare and hinges on a couple of coincidences, but what makes the story work is the realism and its telling. There's a lovely cadence to the storytelling, a kind of gentle, instant rhythm. Overall, a solid addition to the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sterile summer of love, 5 Dec 2010
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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Set in 1967, the contrast is between the 'Summer of Love' and the sleazy underbelly of Stockholm, patrolled by newly promoted Superintendent Beck. As fascinating as the crime and it's investigation is the response of Swedish society to this horrible set of sexually related murders. We have the Press hysteria, the vigilantes in the city parks and the policeman working themselves to the point of exhaustion out of 'duty and responsibility'.

The third in the series, we finally get a few more physical details of Beck but, typically, his description is low key 'a bewildered provincial...in the hustle and bustle of the big city'. There is also more emerging about his colleagues, especially his pal Kollberg.

The pace is steady, prose is minimalist and, occasionally, even bland. This may be deliberate given the sensational nature of the crimes and their aftermath. Their are some well-written vignettes that portray the grimy side of Stockholm.

I had to smile at the scene where the police are trying to smash into the room of a violent suspect and Beck is asked, 'why didn't you bring your computer to break down the door?'.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Nicci French precursor, 31 July 2007
I was really interested to discover and read this 1960s Scandinavian detective novel by a husband-wife team in the style of Nicci French meets Henning Mankell. A lot of 1960s/70s crime fiction doesn't stand up to modern scrutiny, marred by among other things casual racism and sexism. The Man on the Balcony is a marked exception - and a fascinating one. The authors' biog (which is quite brief) passes an interesting comment - identifying them as lifelong Marxists. An unusual statement in a crime novelists' author blurb - a context which usually tends to more anodyne comments. But it is, I suspect, quite significant.

The Man on the Balcony ticks all the crime/thriller boxes of plot, characterisation and atmosphere, but more interestingly it provides an understated but compelling critique of modern (or at least post-War) society. Throughout the book the reader is made aware of the corrosion eating away at social structures, mores, workplace, family relationships. It is incredibly well done - not an in-your-face lecture, just a gradual accumulation of inference. Like Nicci French, there is no sense of two authorial voices or any division of purpose and it is a very smooth and convincing read. I believe Sjowall and Wahloo wrote 10 novels in the series before Per Wahloo died and the books stopped. There's quite a lot about them on the internet including this Britannica entry, and there is a lot of comment on both their literary and political legacy. I am very excited to have found them by chance and can't wait to get my hands on the other 9 books. They also appear to have influenced some fairly awesome literary luminaries including Grahame Greene and Henning Mankell.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Beck, 24 Oct 2007
By 
Alexander Leach (Shipley, West Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is the most gripping of the Martin Beck series of ten novels, with a hideous murderer killing young girls, and the murder squad's desperate search for him. The whole case hinges on a chance conversation which leaves the reader turning the page to seek the resolution.

Alongside Roseanna and The Fire Engine That Disappeared, this is definitely required reading for lovers of Scandinavian crime fiction.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Early days for computers in police work!, 4 Jun 2014
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As per their usual, excellent style, a very detailed, very involving crime story from 1960's Sweden. Specifically, Stockholm. Computers seem to have made an appearance, although not trusted at all by Martin Beck and his band of unhappy men.

A tale of mugging, interleaved with a series of child sex murders, leads the reader through the storyline. Also, missed clues - such as the phone call informing on the eponymous man - feature. This doesn't result in making the police bunglers, rather it makes them human. A feature of all the books in the series, at least so far, is that the police don't make a quick arrest, but work at solving the crimes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Help for the beleaguered Stockholm police from computers and psychologists, 23 April 2014
By 
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is the third book in Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s ten book series ‘The Story of a Crime’ and it is much darker than its predecessors. Rereading this book again after so many years, I found the opening chapter, which simply describes the eponymous man on the balcony, to be incredibly menacing, the pared down description and absence of emotion is like waiting for a mousetrap to snap shut.

Martin Beck and his colleagues have a case of serial mugging on their hands and, just when they think that life cannot get any more difficult, a young girl is found, murdered and raped in a park. I was struck by the many deft descriptions in this book that offer a contrast to the investigation that moves ahead at a realistic snail’s pace. The authors describe Gunvald Larsson, [shoulders like a heavyweight boxer, huge hands covered with shaggy blond hair, fair hair, brushed straight back, disconnected, clear blue eyes] but it is this final non sequiteur that typifies the excellence of this series ‘Kollberg usually completed the description by saying that the expression on his face was that of a motorcyclist.’

Andrew Taylor’s Introduction is as good as Val McDermid’s to the preceding book, which is high praise, but it is a pity that poor proofreading let two errors through, Beck’s colleagues are and Melander and Rönn, not Menander and Ronn. [‘Rönn was a mediocre policeman with mediocre imagination and a mediocre sense of humour’]. It is interesting that the crimes, set in 1967, three years after the events described in the first book, occur at a time when the computer is beginning to be used by the police, ‘[Kollberg thought] of the rapid technical expansion that the police force had undergone merely during the last year; despite this, crime always seemed to be one step ahead. He thought of the new investigation methods and the computers, which could mean that this particular criminal might be caught within a few hours, and also what little consolation these excellent technical investigations had to offer the women he had just left [the victim’s mother], for example. Or himself.’

In those days, computers were computers, leading Larsson to comment ‘Pity you don’t have the computer with you – you could have used it to break down the door.’ The police also turn to psychologists to profile the killer, but Larsson does not warm to this help – he suspects that the psychologists’ summary will be ‘Unrequited love for a wheelbarrow and all that rot.’

A key element of the plot turns on the assistance that a 3-year old witness gives Martin Beck, and the authors, who wrote alternate chapters, manage to combine sensitivity, tension and humour. Later Kollberg acts as the authors’ mouthpiece in commenting on a group of vigilantes who have formed to search for the killer ‘What you have done is indefensible. The very idea of militia comprises a far greater danger to society than any single criminal or gang. It paves the way for lynch mentality and arbitrary administration of justice. It throws the protective mechanism of society out of gear.’

A discussion between two minor characters, the police officers Kvist and Rolin, says a great deal about the police and policing in mid-1960s Sweden, and another pair, the unfortunate Kvant and Kristiansson, are in at the finish and, for once, are not the butt of their colleagues’ jokes.

In addition to the Introduction, once again there is a highly readable and relevant commentary by Richard Shepherd, ‘Sex in the City’ [putting all these together offers a valuable critique to the whole series], a Further Interrogation of Maj Sjöwall’ by Shephard, Life at a Glance which summarises the lives of the authors. There are the usual summaries of The Next Titles, books 4, 5 and 6, in the series, and suggestions for crime books by other authors, Mankell [The Dogs of Riga], Sébastien Japrisot [One Deadly Summer] and Jo NesbÝ [The Devil’s Star].

If only more publishers would follow suit and place similar kinds of text, rather than the pap and puff that we usually get. Another first class read but it will be necessary to put oneself into a 1960s mindset and it would add very much to the overall enjoyment if readers new to Martin Beck and his colleagues were to read the books in order.
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The Man on the Balcony (The Martin Beck series, Book 3)
The Man on the Balcony (The Martin Beck series, Book 3) by Per Wahloo (Paperback - 23 Jun 2011)
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