Top critical review
Fades at the end
on 30 October 2012
Book 5 in the much-acclaimed Martin Beck series finds the authors really hitting their stride in terms of pace and style. Clearly influenced by the police procedurals of Ed McBain, there is a snap to the dialogue here and a nice sense of dark humour that was there in the earlier novels, but just not done so effectively in those as it is here.
Martin Beck remains central to the proceedings, although in this particular story most of the detective work is done by colleagues, and the focus seems more on the disintegration of Beck's home life, and the fact that the only person in his family he can connect with is his daughter, and she is on the verge of leaving home to travel.
The social observations and comments on life in Sweden in the late sixties (this book in the series is set in 1968) are interesting, but don't date the book too much, so it's the actual story and detection that takes centre stage, which is how it should be.
Up until the end, the plot is tightly woven and well-handled, but as with previous volumes in the Beck series, there is a tendency for major developments in the plot to fade a little towards the end, which is disappointing.
The "PS" section of the paperback edition contains some excellent supplementary information on police procedural novels and other books worthy of interest, and is something to read, rather than skip over in my view. The introduction from Colin Dexter, frankly, adds little, and can be ignored without spoiling the book.