Friday, 31 May 2013

Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

Roseanna is the first book in the Martin Beck police procedural series published in Swedish in 1965 and translated in English by Lois Roth. I read The man who went up in smoke , The Fire Engine that Disappeared and The Man on the Balcony in this series. Planning to read all the other books in the series, I read the first one at last.

The body of a woman in her late twenties is found while dredging of Lake Vattern. The local police at Motala headed by Ahlberg and Martin Beck from Stockholm police try to find out about the woman. There is no missing woman report identical to the woman found dead. Who is the woman? How did she end up in the canal? Why is nobody looking for her?

The story uses a matter-of-fact narration and is very straightforward and engaging, starts with the finding of the body in a lake to the apprehension of the perpetrator of the crime. The following monologue by Martin Beck gives an insight into Martin Beck and sets the tone not only for this novel but also the other books in the series, at least the ones I have read.

'You are stubborn and logical, and completely calm. You don't allow yourself to lose your composure and you act only professionally on a case, whatever it is. Words like repulsive, horrible, and bestial belong in the newspapers, not in your thinking. A murderer is a regular human being, only more unfortunate and maladjusted'

Martin spends sleepless nights trying to find out about the dead woman and her killer. As in real life, things don't happen in a jiffy. It takes time to get the first break. They learn that the victim is Roseanna, an American travelling alone in a cruise ship, limiting the suspects to the eighty-five passengers and crew of the ship. Did one of the eighty-five people kill her? Or is it somebody else? To track eighty-five people is no easy job, especially when the passengers belong to different countries, but with the help of authorities in other countries they track them. After the first break there is some activity and then again there is a lull and finally the case is solved. The case takes months to solve but Martin and Ahlberg are determined to find the culprit and find they did.
A great beginning to a great series.


TracyK said...

I will be reading this book soon, and I enjoyed reading your review. I have read some of Sjowall and Wahloo's books (long ago) but don't remember them, so I am starting from the beginning and looking forward to it.

Marie King said...

This book sounds fantastic! I've never read Sjowall but I'm very intrigued. I'm finishing a book right now, called "Life's Blood" by Gordon Gumpertz. You should give it a glance, I think you'd like it. This is the author's website,, with more info about the book and another book of his. Thanks for the review and suggestion, you sold me on "Roseanna"!

srivalli said...

Thanks Tracy for stopping by! I am enjoying reading this great series.
Thanks Marie for the recommendation, I will check it out.

kit said...

I have only read one of the books in this series (The Laughing Policeman), but I really enjoyed it - this one sounds great too, I'll add it to my library list as it'd be good to start the series from the beginning!

srivalli said...

Thanks Kit for stopping by! I haven't read The Laughing Policeman yet! I am looking forward to read all the other books in the series. Happy reading!