The Man Who Went Up In Smoke (A Martin Beck) Paperback – 23 Jun 2011
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‘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 Sjowall and Per Wahloo, 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. Wahloo died at the age of 49 just as their 10th book was going to press. Sjowall 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The book was originally written in 1966, and the production is set in that time. Martin Beck is just about to go on holiday when he is called in to investigate the disappearance of a journalist in Hungary. He travels to Budapest where things seem to get out of control and he suspects he is being tailed by the secret police. With the help of a friendly local policeman he starts to uncover a complicated story, while Kolberg back in Sweden starts to track down some interesting leads. Beck slowly works his way through the layers of obfuscation and red herrings to finally arrive at what is really a simple truth.
It's a nicely constructed adventure that intriguingly knocks down a few of the misconceptions of the time surrounding Hungary and provides an interesting puzzle for Beck to solve. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's not as dark as the Wallander books (didn't Wallander also go behind the iron curtain in his second book? I wonder just how influenced Mankell was by the Beck stories?) and Beck is less of a flawed human being than most modern noir detectives, making him a more sympathetic character and the story easier to get into.
The BBC production is, as usual, excellent. Mackintosh provides a considered performance, making the character thoughtful. We get to hear a lot more of the excellent Neil Pearson as Kolberg in this release, which is very welcome. The acting is generally pretty good, and the two narrative voices provide just the right tone with their dry, matter of fact statements. It's about an hour long, one episode on one disc. There are limited liner notes. In all an excellent production. 5 stars for this interesting and well produced mystery.
It's a plot that would become a staple of both the detective and spy genres, and it has the traditional plot development of the cops from both countries ultimately being united by their professionalism and devotion despite the cultural differences and different approaches. Yet it's unusual for a novel from that time to treat the police in a repressive nation that keeps rigorous tabs on all its citizens yet somehow let a visiting foreign journalist slip through the cracks as the cavalry rather than the villains. Not that there isn't much suspicion, paranoia and convincingly downbeat vignettes to remind you that Communist countries could be soul-destroying places, but it's balanced with the practicalities of solving a crime rather than scoring political or ideological points.
It's not one of the best of the series, perhaps because it takes Beck out of his environment when it had barely been established, perhaps because it limits his interaction with his regular colleagues to the occasional international phone call from his friend Lennart Kollberg.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If I had read this as a first I wouldn't have read a second Beck book.Published 4 months ago by Dr B Loane
Very pleasing, interesting characters and good plotline. I'll surely read another Martin Beck next time I want a good crime book.Published 5 months ago by R. Creagh-osborne
I'm reading the Beck series from start to finish. This, no.2, is well plotted, well-written, entertaining. It's not gripping, or enthralling, but it's a good read. Read morePublished 5 months ago by S. Sheppard
I was rather disappointed, as I have always enjoyed Henning Mankel;'s books and I understand he was influenced by these earlier authors.Published 5 months ago by Marie Nevett
Enjoyed reading this as much as the first book, will continue with the series.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
I was seeking something as gripping as The Millenium Series and I found it.Published 7 months ago by Jacquelinesunflower