Monday, September 07, 2015

Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

After reading some long or mediocre books lately, I looked for something both good and not too long.  When reading a review of the latest in the "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" series, the reviewer mentioned other Swedish authors, including a duo that changed the genre with their 10 book series starting in the early '60s with Roseanna.

This is crime fiction at its best.  You have a taciturn detective with a varied and capable detective crew who solve crimes without DNA, massive gun battles, or 1000 yard rifle shots with pinpoint accuracy.  In this first story, they don't even know the name of the victim, her nationality, or where she was murdered.  All they know is she was found in the water by a lock being dredged to improve boat traffic.

Through diligent police work, the name appears, which leads to the boat, which leads onward to more understanding of events.  Each character is drawn well and believably, the crime makes some sense in the end, and requires no suspension of reality to make the plot work. The writing is sparse and clean.

Perhaps after reading at least 100 detective stories over the years, I've gotten a little PTSD from the trend towards escalating horrific crimes and those who solve them thru lucky outcomes.  This police procedural may seem a bit quaint, but it deserves to stand alongside the best of Ross McDonald, Raymond Chandler, James Lee Burke, and James Ellroy.  If you like a good mystery, this is a great read.

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