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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Cop Killer (The Martin Beck series, Book 9)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 24 November 2013
This is the 9th and penultimate book in the Martin Beck series. It features complex and seemingly intractable problems as two crimes clash: a sex murder and the shooting of policemen where the shooter is killed at the scene, but his accomplice escapes. The crimes are committed in a small backwater near to Malmo, but the action splits the crime squad between here and the familiar territory of Stockholm. This is the most political of the books I have read, so far, and has the team older and more jaded than before under ineffective, if not actually incompetent, leadership exacerbated by apparent failure, in their opinion, of the Swedish welfare state. In the end the team is successful in their separate tasks through old fashioned police work and coincidental events that eventually opens up each case in a final twist that is surprising, but wholly believable. I enjoyed this book: different from the others in the series, but still familiar through the characters and police procedures that follow a routine, but which events make unique. A great story and a very good read.
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on 26 July 2017
Another enthralling story from the Martin Beck series. Now the year is 1973, but Sweden is still as drab as years earlier in the mid-sixties. Beck is taken out of his comfort zone and detached to the countryside.

Full of detail, two separate stories - A sex murder and a cop killing - are interwoven and come together right at the end. Unlike many modern crime stories, it's not the eye catching solution, but the build up of seemingly mundane details. Another winner from the couple.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 June 2014
Nine down and just `The Terrorists' to go in Sjöwall and Wahlöö's ten book series `The Story of a Crime'. Written in 1974 and here in a translation from a year later by Thomas Teal, Beck and Kollberg escape the noise and stresses of Stockholm for Anderslöv in the south of the country, a rural backwater where policing is carried out by Herrgot Allwright and his dog, Timmy.

Allwright was the `type of man who did not fit in with the new conformist style [of policing] and was therefore on his way to dying out, but was not yet completely extinct'. Hardly surprising that he gets on so well with Beck who arrives to look into the disappearance of divorcee, Sigbrit Mård, last seen waiting for a bus home. By the time we reach chapter 3 we already know what has happened to Sigbrit and have also met Lindberg, `The Breadman', who the police are seeking after a raid on a jeweller's shop in which a sales assistant was shot dead. The media and Beck's bosses believe that the disappearance is, in fact a murder, carried out by Folke Bengtsson, last met in the first book in the series, `Roseanne', who lives closest to the missing woman. There is also the reappearance of Åke Gunnarson, from six years earlier in `The Man Who Went Up in Smoke', and the scene where he and Kollberg reflect on the dark places in their lives is one of the high spots of the series.

Beck is much more relaxed in this book, set just over a year after the previous book, `The Locked Room', and the reason for his changed attitude can be found there. Almost half way through the book there is a major advance in the investigation and shortly thereafter the event that gives the book its name occurs. The authors' control and plotting is perfect throughout and, as has been the case all through the series, there is not the slightest evidence that they wrote alternate chapters. The two investigations and that of The Breadman, who disappears from the story between chapters 2 and 26, are neatly tied up but the major outcome of this novel, which has been hinted at more than once in earlier books, still comes as a surprise. For this reason, I would strongly recommend that the books be read in order.

As was the case in `The Locked Room', the authors find much to criticise in the police and politicians, and rage at the huge gaps in welfare provisions of the period. `The crime rate continued to climb, and violence steadily increased. There seemed to be no one within the police administration capable of grasping the simple the simple truth that violence breeds violence and that, in fact, it was the police who had struck the first blow.' Much of their fire is targeted at National Police Commissioner Malm, Beck's superior, who directs police activities in his usual shambolic fashion and who, at his boss's behest, is ready to have Bengtsson arrested and charged with murder when the evidence is flimsy to say the least.

One of the great pleasures is to meet characters, old friends, from earlier in the series - Inspector Månsson from Malmö, with his toothpicks and Gripenbergers, the red-nosed Einar Rönn and Benny Skacke, now an Inspector and married with a young daughter, all appear as do Kristiansson and Kvant, once again creating chaos, and even Frederik Melander, now attached to the Robbery Squad, makes a crucial entry. The contrast between the urban and rural Sweden is beautifully described as is the frustration of Beck, Månsson, Larsson and Kollberg with the politics and bureaucracy of mid-1970s Sweden that forces them to use the skills they honed catching criminals to out-manoeuvre their superiors.

A thread running through this book, as in earlier ones, is whether or not the police should carry guns, and whether or an armed police force is the cause of so many gun-related killings. The best argument about why novels set in a Sweden 40 or more years in the past are still worth reading today is to start reading `Roseanna' - how much would I give to be back reading the first book knowing that there would be a further nine to go.

Surprisingly, this Harper Perennial does not contain the usual Introduction and the short essays by Richard Shepherd at the back are repeats from an earlier book.
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VINE VOICEon 20 April 2011
Martin Beck plays a lesser role in this police procedural which features two seemingly unconnected deaths. The authors are vociferous in their criticisms of the nationalisation of the police force, the failings of the Welfare State and the shortcomings of the, so-called, 'Third Way'. These criticisms are voiced via the narrator rather than the characters.

The book features the usual cast list but concentrates on Beck's closest friend, Kollberg. The latter's disenchantment with 'the force' is central and also extends to a vital parting gift to Beck.

The book gripped me from a chilling, opening chapter. It has a few knowing references to the earlier books in the series but is an excellent stand alone read for those unwilling to commit to the decalogue.

If you like the police procedural genre these authors must be in your Top Ten and this book is one of their best.
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VINE VOICEon 23 December 2010
There was the Swedish writing team of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. They created the character of Inspector Martin Beck and in ten volumes pretty much gave birth to the concept of Swedish noir. Henning Mankell's Inspector Wallander series and Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander/Mikael Blomkvist stories are the literary progeny of Sjowall and Wahloo's wonderful creation.

"Cop Killer" is the ninth of ten stories in the Inspector Beck series. It focuses on the disappearance and likely murder of Sig Mard in a small town far from Stockholm. Inspector Martin Beck, now the head of Sweden's national homicide bureau is called in to investigate. There is some pressure on Beck to round up the usual suspects, certainly the available evidence seems to suggest a limited universe of potential killers), but Beck will have none of it. Beck, as usual, is painstakingly thorough, almost plodding. There are no Sherlock Holmes-like flashes of genius. Beck is a good cop because he works hard, is thorough and has a way of sifting through the evidence until a picture forms of the crime sufficient for a resolution.

A number of things keep the Martin Beck stories interesting for me. First and foremost is the character development of the major players. Beck and his colleagues are far from angels or virtuous men on horseback coming in to save the world from crime. They are cops, first and foremost, doing a tough job in a country which has had (based on these books at least) more than its share of murder and mayhem. Yet, after reading a few of these books I've grown attached to Beck and his crew. They aren't geniuses but they work. They dig out clues and they wait and they analyze and they dig some more. Second is the setting: Sweden in the 60s and 70s. Sjowall and Wahloo world view (they were socialist and strong supporters of the Social Democratic Party) does not create a rose-colored look at society but, rather, one that shows crime and moral decay even within a system that on its surface is dedicated to egalitarianism. Cop Killers sets out the dysfunction created by the Swedish 'system'in stark relief and in particular on the impact of that dysfunction on Beck and his colleagues. They still do their job but they cannot help but take a cynical approach to the world around them, particularly toward the preening bureaucrats that rise to the top of the administrative heap for all sorts of reasons not related to competence.

I did like Cop Killer and I do recommend it. It can be read as a stand-alone novel. However, given the evolution of Beck and his fellow officers over the course of the series I'd recommend that the books be read in order. I think if you like the initial couple of books enough to keep reading you just may find yourself reading all ten.
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on 12 August 2012
For readers, it all begins with when and how a young woman is killed and where her body is hidden. She lived in a small village and is quickly reported missing. She was last seen in the post office talking to her distant neighbor {she bought eggs from him), who may have given her a ride home. Or only slowed down at the bus stop where she waited, then drove on, as he says.
The reason why Martin Beck (MB) and Kollberg travel to southern Sweden for a missing person case, is the neighbor, an `import' and loner, known for his excellent smoked fish. And the convicted killer of US tourist Roseanne during a river cruise in 1964. Having served his sentence, he is unhappy seeing MB, who caught him after many months of grueling investigations, and being a suspect again.
What follows is painstaking police work in the scenic, peaceful province of Skane, with competent local colleagues like Mansson (known from earlier S&W books) and Njöld, who knows everyone in his biotope and a great cook. A perfect base for MB and Kollberg, except that they are tailed by the press. One of the newshounds is another killer MB collared after months of research, again years ago, described in "The Man who went up in Smoke"...
A shooting in Skane with one policeman dead and two wounded, prompts a manhunt towards Stockholm and becomes a second storyline. Kollberg is recalled. MB, left alone in Skane, with various local inputs and help from his staff in Stockholm, pins down the killer. For readers to find out how.
A top S&W book, well paced and with believable characters. Later, Henning Mankell and his hero Kurt Wallander destroyed S&W's idyllic portrayal of Skane province in his own series of 10 police procedurals, which began in Swedish, in 1991.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 October 2011
Another highly entertaining crime novel from the Swedish writers Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. "Cop Killer" has a challenging plot, with three stories interlinked; some extremely well-drawn characters, not the least of which are the illustrious Martin Beck, his long-time partner, Lennart Kollberg and the slightly outrageous, Gunvald Larsson, and a few surprises sprinkled throughout the story. As is the case with many of the books in this series, the authors express some strong feelings about the problems of the Swedish welfare state (circa 1979 in this case) and some sharp-edged criticism of the country's criminal justice system. For a crime novel with a cop protagonist who had reached the status of international icon at the time this book came out, there is surprisingly harsh commentary about the quality of Swedish policemen and their alleged lack of commitment to their work. Sjowall and Wahloo also use the book to examine the question of guns and their use by police. Their views on the matter--voiced by a couple of cop characters in the book--would be controversial in a lot of societies, certainly in ours here in the U.S.

Despite the fact that this is a murder story with other serious crimes and misdemeanors tossed in and the writers are liberal with their criticism of the Swedish state throughout, Sjowall and Wahloo manage to keep the tale light-hearted and funny from beginning to end. This is done largely through their really brilliant character sketches, but they are also well-connected with the absurdities of life and skilled at threading a good dose of that element throughout the book.

I'm not getting into the details of the plot--others have already done that with some skill. I can add that "Cop Killer" surprisingly brings three different crimes together in a perfectly plausible and entertaining way. This is a really good read and does justice to the whole series. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 6 January 2010
Sjowall and Wahloo were the husband and wife team who together conceived and wrote a series of 10 police novels about the exploits of detectives from the the special homicide commission of the national police in which the character of Martin Beck was the main protagonist and backing him up was his assitant Kollberg.

This novel is the 9th in the series and deals with a murder of a woman in Southern Sweden however there is a secondary story which deals with a teenage killer of a policeman.

What you see in these novels is the beginnings of modern Swedish crime fiction, with the writers being concerned with swedish society and the changes which were occurring in the 60'/70's. What is remarkable is that this is still being reinforced by modern Swedish and Nordic writers, especially Mankell, Larsson and the icelandic writer Indridason.
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on 22 March 2013
This book was just as readable as the other eight. I have read them all in order and recommend that is for the best as you see all the characters develop. In this you see the return of a murderer from a previous book in a sort of bit part. You can't help feeling sympathy for the bad guys and often contempt for the top police brass. Above all else you feel that the story unfolding and the characters involved are somehow real and natural in a way that is hard to explain. The simplicity of the storytelling is elegant and rich. My only disappointment was that I did not get an introduction with this book for some reason. The introductions have been great. Enjoy because sadly there's only one more to go.
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on 22 August 2013
Book 9 of the series, I wish I was just starting the first one! I found these authors purely by being on the Amazon site and I am so glad that I did.

I wanted crime thrillers, entertainment and who `dunnits` and boy I couldn`t ask for more: but I have also been educated in the
chaotic 1960-1970`s so called police service! if the authors are to be believed!
Did you like Starsky and Hutch? and our own British version (whose title I can`t recall because of my great age) then this is for you too, comedy, tragedy and pathos all on one page.
Wallow in the past and enjoy the journey, I just wish I wasn`t coming to the last book.
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