Martin Beck’s Loveless Marriage

I was supposed to be making music with some friends of mine on New Year’s Eve, but then we had four or five inches of light fluffy snow and they all cancelled, so I suppose I could be miffed, but then again, things turned out pretty well.

My brother Rob and I initiated a great New Year’s tradition a long time ago when we gave all the dogs a piece of baloney and went to bed early. It’s actually more fun to celebrate New Year’s Day, the first day of the year.

So I filled up the woodbox (it’s nasty, windy cold), futzed around the house, came up with several brilliant ideas for the GoNOMAD Travel Website, and lined up six new blog entries including ‘Ernie Pyle’s Private Hell’ and ‘Tip O’Neill meets JFK.’

Now that’s exciting stuff. But the most exciting is curling up and reading about Martin Beck’s loveless marriage. The Martin Beck series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo is definitely on a par with the Maigret series by George Simenon.

Both authors do extensive research in law enforcement techniques and prodedures and create an engaging, personal atmosphere. So you’re interested not just in whether this crime is solved, but how it is solved by these characters.

Martin Beck is a Swedish homicide detective who is unhappy at home and has indigestion all the time. A super fun guy to hang out with.

But when a dredging crew finds a naked body in a Swedish lake and nobody in the entire country can figure out who she is, it is Martin Beck who identifies her and even finds the man who murdered her, and it’s fascinating to follow the process step by step in the first book, Roseanna.

Part of it involves sending requests to policemen all over the world to collect travelers’ photos and movies of their trip on a Swedish canal boat. And some lady from Michigan has movies showing the victim with the guy who turns out to be the killer.

Now I’m on to another book in the series, The Fire Engine That Disappeared. And there’s another great one: The Man Who Went Up in Smoke where Martin Beck goes to Hungary and finds a detective a lot like himself behind the Iron Curtain.

But I have to say, they’re all great, The Abominable Man, The Man on the Balcony — and there’s a bunch more.

I especially like Beck’s colleague, the man of action Gunvald Larsson, who you know is going to crash through a door at some point. What’s amazing is that he always crashes through a door at exactly the right time. That’s the trick, right there.

Oh and by the way, Martin winds up getting a divorce and finding a hot girlfriend.