Book Review – Timeless Swedish crime fiction

The Cop Killer is one of the ten novels in the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo – Swedish crime writers. this is the second book I have read in the series and is a far better read than “The Man on the Balcony,” however, both are timeless stories that are just as relevant today as when they were written in the sixties and seventies.  I do believe it is possible to detect an undercurrent of concern about the erosion of morals in these writings, but the commentary on violence in Swedish society in this story, particularly when it comes to trigger-happy cops, and whether Police should be able to carry loaded weapons is certainly a moot point, even today.

Much is made of abnormally high suicide rates in Sweden in the book, but this seems to date the book, somewhat, as it was a popular myth 50 years ago and is indeed, disputed. Now that former Soviet block and fundamentally Catholic countries do actually report their country’s rates, Sweden ranks 44th in the world, well behind Finland, at 19th place and indeed lower than all other Scandinavian countries, even Greenland, which holds the dubious 1st place!

But I digress slightly here, so back to the story itself. A middle-aged divorced woman disappears in Skåne, in rural southern Sweden, (near Kurt Wallander territory), and the suspicion immediately falls to her neighbour, who is a bit odd, and did time for a sex murder many years before. But is he the real killer?

Gun-ho cops attempt to apprehend a couple of youths nearby and through a series of police bungling and separate events, the murderer appears to be discovered, but not without a terrible toll for all concerned. This spills over to the debate for one officer as to whether police should be able to carry arms. Do English ‘Bobbies’ still walk the beat armed only with trudgeons?

I enjoyed this crime fiction book from the swedish pair and it really surprised me to find it was published way back in 1975. Particularly, I found the descriptions of the southern swedish countryside with the walls of fog, to be rich and detailed.Book - The cop killer

The Good: Descriptive settings

The Bad:   Crime is moderately easy to solve. Current retail price way too high.

The Ugly:   Seemingly unrelated threads are a bit too obviously connected to the main storyline.

Rating: Read in 1-2 days. 7 /10

Recommended due its timelessness.

Does the fact that Police carry loaded weapons means they are more likely to

impulse shoot without consideration? Something to ponder about.


About Forestwoodfolk

Scandinavian culture, literature and traditions are close to my heart, even though I am Australian. I have Scandinavian, Frisian and Prussian/Silesian ancestry and for that reason, I feel a connection with that part of the world. I am an avid Nordic Crime fiction reader, and enjoy photography, writing and a variety of cooking and crafts, and traditional decorative art forms. Politically aware and egalitarian by nature, I have a strong environmental bent.
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10 Responses to Book Review – Timeless Swedish crime fiction

  1. Viking Queen says:

    I’ve just started reading the first of the Beck Novels… Finished all the Wallanders. Not sure how much I like it yet…


  2. I’ve never read the books but a few times I’ve come close to ordering the Beck Tv Series from Amazon. Next time i’m at the library I’ll see if book 1 (Roseanna) is available.


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