Wednesday, October 01, 2014

14. Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

Trade paperbacks may have pulled Olman's Fifty from the edge of the pit!

I am alive, I have been reading, albeit very slowly (up to 14 so far this year as you can see).  I have a child now and have significantly more responsibilities at work after a timely promotion.  However, these are really minor factors in my blogging decline.  It's these godamned tablets!  They are like the crack cocaine version of the internet and I have been spending almost all my leisure hours with my cracked lips sucking on the pipe.  It's pathetic.  Google+ believe it or not is particularly insatiable, consuming my hours as I sit there hunched over, drool collecting on the corner of my lip, reading snippet after snippet on pulp fiction covers, tabletop RPG gaming controversy and sports gossip.  It's pathetic.

But these last months I have slowly grown weary and the well is getting drier and drier.  My wife discovered a garage sale with some great kids books and we went back together.  They had several of the Inspector Martin Beck books in good trade paperback form and I grabbed the first one for a dollar.  I realized that I have several vintage paperbacks that I want to read, but I am too scared to crack them open for fear of damaging them.  I got into used paperbacks in the first place oh so many years ago because I am so rough with books and wanted something I could keep with me at all times and conditions and not worry about their condition.  Now that the traditional paperback has become a niche collectible, I can no longer afford to do that.  I was anti-trade paperback for many reasons, but since more and more good books (i.e. non-literary fiction) have been re-released in trade paperback form, I suspect we will be seeing more and more of them show up in used book stores and garage sales.  Well this Roseanna was a start anyways and I devoured it in a day, spilled milk and water on it, knocked it off the side of the bed and put it in a backpack with a soiled diaper bag and bread crumbs.

I should have bought them all, but was wary of commitment at this early stage of my reading rehabilitation.  Roseanna is a straight-up detective procedural, utterly focused on the investigation and a frustrating and slow one that is somehow neither for the reader.  A woman shows up dead in the bucket of a lock dredger in Sweden.  At first, they can't even identify her, let alone generate a list of suspects.  Martin Beck is called in from Stockholm and he and his colleagues doggedly keep at it until little by little they start unearthing more and more information, some by luck, some by smart investigation but most by exhausting every possible channel of dogged info gathering.  It's extremely satisfying to read about people who work hard in a quiet, often unpleasant but determined and relentless way.  The ending was quite tense, though the thriller aspect at the end felt a bit forced.  From the introduction, the entire series is a 10-book examination of the Swedish investigation bureau and if the characters evolve and the investigations continue like this one, I will definitely get into it.  I'm glad I finally stumbled upon what most detective readers have known for a long time.

[As for reviews of the previous 13 books for this year, I have noted the time of their reading but haven't actually written reviews.  May write a few but may also just throw in a brief sentence or two to note their having being read.  Thanks for your patience!]


Nick Jones (Louis XIV, the Sun King) said...

Welcome back, sir! I can sympathise with the child/work thing, but not the Google+ thing: get off that tablet and... er, get back on that tablet and do some more blogging.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Heh, I thought sheepishly of you, with a new daughter as well and as productive as ever, when I wrote my excuses.

Thanks for the vote of support. Recovery will be slow and inconsistent, but the will is there.

Caropops said...

Did you know that there is a Swedish TV series of Martin Beck. We used to get it here on a local PBS station, but they were losing money so no more international mysteries, alas.

Kate M. said...

Earlier this year the BBC did radio plays of all ten Beck books and they're very good, using the same actors throughout for Beck, Lennart Kollberg, Gunvald Larsson and the rest, and with a man and a woman doing the narration bits (just as a man and a woman wrote the original books).

I've now read all the books. They're all good, but grim in places. But these are books you have to have read if you're going to plunge into Scandinavian crime stuff because they did it first.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Oh I love BBC radio plays! I will hunt these down. Thanks!

Kate M. said...

I have them and would be happy to drop off a memory stick with them sometime at your office. Haven't forgotten you once gave me a free phone that I used for the better part of a year!