What is it about Scandinavian crime? I’m not reading it all, but there is quite a lot in the stacks and I’m not sure why; I don’t think it’s a bandwagon on which I have jumped along with many others as everything I’ve read so far has been great, but it is interesting how much has been published over the past few years.

Although I have to confess that I picked this up without really registering that it actually was Scandinavian; for some reason I thought it was German – probably just because the hero’s name is Martin Beck, which (feebly) sounds faintly German to me.

Bit of a rambly intro into a review of a book which I enjoyed very much.

Roseanna is the first of 10 novels in the Martin Beck sequence which look at crime as a reflection of Swedish society (as explained by Henning Mankell in his fascinating introduction) and was published in 1965. It is the story of the investigation of the murder of Roseanna, though at the beginning we know nothing about her for quite a long time, she is simply a body pulled from a lake by a dredger, clearly murdered but by whom?

What makes this such an interesting read is how it concentrates on the tedium of much police work. It takes Beck and his colleagues ages to find out anything about the victim other than the stuff that is revealed by the post-mortem, and what they do find out is partly based on luck.

Beck himself is not what I expected; yes, like a lot of detectives, he isn’t entirely happy at home, though he at least is still married to his wife unlike so many others, and he is prone to depression and has problems with his digestion which gives an interesting perspective on how he handles his job. The importance of team work comes across; Beck is not one of those detectives who goes off on his own following hunches, this is a proper police procedural. And the killer and his motive (if it can be called that) was sadly all too plausible.

Will definitely be looking for others in the series.

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