Skip to main content

CR3 #48: The Laughing Policeman by Per Wahloo

(Okay, let's get this out of the way right now: Per Wahloo is a funny name. I know I shouldn't laugh because it's Swedish and for all I know Wahloo is just as average in Sweden as Smith is here. But come ooooooon! Say it to yourself: Per Wahloo. Now out loud. And again. And again. See?)

I have only recently become aware that the Swedes are quite the mystery novelists. I bought Steig Larsson's Lisbeth Salander books, and enjoyed all three to varying degrees. After that, started getting very Scandinavian in its book recommendations. I tried to explain that just because I enjoyed one Swedish mystery did not mean that I wanted to explore any further. However, Amazon can be very stubborn when it so chooses. Unsurprisingly, so can I when I make my mind. No Swedish books, goddammit! My motherland (or like 1/8 of my motherland, anyway, being something of a mutt) has no literary pull on me!

Unfortunately, I had reached a point where I was at a loss for things to read. My obsession with disaster books has waned considerably, and my WWII fascination seems to be in hibernation at the moment. It's summer! My strongest instinct is to read mind-rotting junk, because THAT'S WHAT SUMMER IS FOR! I happened to wasting time on Facebook when I came across a "Book List Challenge" of "100 Best Mystery Novels of All Time." I do like mystery novels, and it turned out I'd never even heard of most that were listed. Clearly, something had to be done! Luckily, it also turned out that used mystery books are extremely cheap, so I ordered some. One was the previously reviewed Fer-de-Lance, and another was The Laughing Policeman.

The Laughing Policeman begins with a mass murder on a Stockholm bus. A mysterious suspect managed to gun down nine people--including a young police officer--in just a few minutes and escape without leaving a clue. The police are stymied--they aren't even sure who all the victims are, and have no idea what the motive could be. The whole force pulls together (including some out-of-town guests who are called in to assist) and combine intuitive thought processes with old fashioned police work to solve the crime and find out who murdered one of their own.

This is apparently one of a series of books featuring Detective Martin Beck. I guess this book falls somewhere in the middle of the series, but I didn't feel like I was terribly lost having not read any of the previous novels. I'm sure I'd appreciate the character development more if I'd had four or five books to watch it develop, but this can definitely be read on a stand-alone basis without any problem. The characters were mostly well-written, though some of their personal interactions were a little strange. Also, the only women in the books were either whores, victims, harpies, or sex objects (kind of weird since Wahloo apparently co-wrote this with his wife.) There were no strong female characters, but since it was written in the mid-seventies, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. The plot moved ahead reasonably quickly, and there were very few jumps in the logic of what was happening. My only problem was one that I often have with foreign literature--I had a bit of trouble keeping the names straight. I had the same issues with Larsson's books--here there were characters named Gunnar, Guntar, and Grunvald all running around detecting, and it took me a while to be able to recognize who was who. However, the characters' personalities soon became distinct and I had no more problems.

On the whole, I'd recommend this, and I plan to see if I can track down the other books in the series.


Popular posts from this blog

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…

CBR9 #5 Borgin Keep by Ron Ripley

I've read the entire Berkeley Street series, as well as the Haunted series, and I think this was definitely one of the better offerings. This time, former Marine Shane and his slowly growing band of willing (and unwilling) ghost hunting allies face their biggest challenge yet. While the ghosts of Borgin Keep are both very dangerous and very evil, Shane also must keep one step ahead of The Watchers, a ruthless and powerful organization who find him to be a threat to their shadowy goals.

As always, for me the best part are the characters. Shane and his ghost-hunting partner Frank (a former soldier/former monk) are joined once again by police detective Marie LaFontaine, who is a very tough woman determined to avenge a dead friend. I'm not as fond of Shane's girlfriend Courtney, but I understand her uses as far as character development.

The plot moves along quickly, and I found this book a little better fleshed out than a few of the previous ones in the series -- while I enjoye…

CBR9 #3: Missing Wives, Missing Lives by JJ Slate

There's a lot of discussion these days about things that are dangerous to women--is it heart disease? Is it stress? Car accidents? Drugs? Serial killers? Trans women in bathrooms?--but it seems like one of the biggest hazards to women are the men in their lives.

This book details the cases of thirty women who vanished. Stretching back to 1976, and with cases as recent as 2007, the women featured in this book seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, never to be seen again. For some, the legal system was able to prove a case against the men in their lives, but for others, the search for justice may never be resolved.

The amazing thing to me was the stories that the husbands gave upon their wives' disappearances. "So, you had a fight, and she just left the house--at 3am. In her pajamas. Barefoot. Without her purse, or her glasses, or her car, or her TEETH? Leaving her small dependent children behind. And you decided to say nothing for three weeks? And while she was gon…