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The Man on the Balcony (Martin Beck #3)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  2,329 ratings  ·  152 reviews
The chilling third novel in the Martin Beck mystery series by the internationally renowned crime writing duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, finds Martin Beck investigating a string of child murders.In the once peaceful parks of Stockholm, a killer is stalking young girls and disposing their bodies. The city is on edge, and an undercurrent of fear has gripped its residents. Ma ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 12th 1976 by Vintage (first published 1967)
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonThe Snowman by Jo NesbøThe Redbreast by Jo Nesbø
Scandinavian/Nordic Mysteries
68th out of 219 books — 420 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonPippi Longstocking by Astrid LindgrenThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonHunger by Knut HamsunThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
Best Scandinavian and Nordic Literature
194th out of 799 books — 760 voters

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Feb 09, 2012 Brad rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves good characters
I am a big fan of multi-multi-part series. Series that follow the same character(s) for eight, nine, ten or even dozens of books have an ability to play with characters and let them grow and breathe that one shots or even trilogies don't.

The best, like Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey Maturin Series, do such a fine job that their characters become members of the family. People you know intimately and love despite all their flaws. The worst, like most of the Fantasy and Sci-Fi series that have multiple a
Part three of The Story of a Crime sequence sees the series really take off.

Martin Beck is back in Stockholm and has been promoted to Detective Inspector, a year after the events in The Man Who Went Up In Smoke and it is The Summer of Love as seen through the eyes of a tired and stressed Homicide Department.

This time Beck and his colleagues are trying catch two criminals, a mugger and a murderer who preys on very young girls, violating and then killing them. With the summer sun baking the city a
Book Review

As each Martin Beck novel in this series is presented with a foreword by a Scandinavian writer, and to have this novel's first gasp of breath written by none other than Jo Nesbo...well, it had to happen sooner orlater. It is fascinating to unravel the threads that tie authors to each other; tethered by influential strands like sticky spider webs authors learn from other authors. Through reading they learn to stand on their own; through writing they gain strength and conviction and as
Sjowall & Wahloo come of age with this clever police procedural. I really liked the sense of action but frustration of the police as they fail to find their man or build a picture of the assailant. There is tension among the officers, they are exhausted and have little time for their own lives; this is done in a fresh way and despite the novel being over 45 old it strikes you as being a clear and unique voice in terms of personal relationships; contrast to Maigret's faithful spouse.
The plot
Start reading Man on the Balcony and then just try to put down this breakthrough murder-mystery by the author couple Maj Sjövall and Per Wahlöö. With masterful pacing, noir atmosphere, and a minimalist writing style, they relate the story of how detective Martin Beck and his colleagues confront an excruciatingly difficult investigative challenge. As the stakes grow, so does the tension not only for the police but also for the reader. Social cohesion itself is in jeopardy as the number of victims ...more
Ben Thurley
I'm enjoying Sjöwall and Wahlöö's series of police procedurals more and more –they're consistently good, but each book seems better than the last.

The Man on the Balcony opens with a snapshot of a fervid Stockholm, sweltering on the brink of a hot summer. The disquieting tone is intensified as the narrative focuses on a man standing on his balcony, observing the goings-on in the street below as the summer sun rises in the early hours of the morning. His obsessive voyeurism is signalled starkly i
Stieg Larsson (The Girl With Dragon Tattoo trilogy) was inspired by Henning Mankell, who is nearly as famous as Larsson. And Mankell was inspired by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, or rather, Martin Beck, the detective they created. And Sjöwall and Wahlöö were inspired by Simenon's Maigret...
The books in this series were published in the 1960s-1970s, and now one would have to define these stories as vintage police procedurals. Martin Beck was apparently Maigret for the Scandinavian crime. The Man on
Nov 11, 2012 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bettie, Carey
From BBC Radio 4 - Saturday Drama:
Someone is assaulting and killing young girls in the parks of Stockholm. With only a brutal mugger and a three year-old boy for witnesses, the investigation is stalling. It's only a tiny detail surfacing in Beck's mind that puts the murder squad on the trail of the killer, but will they get him before he strikes again?
I'm reading my way through this iconic ten book series by Swedish duo Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. The series was written in the 1960s and is the forerunner of much of modern popular Scandinavian thriller/mysteries. This is the third book in the series which features the morose policeman Martin Beck, now a superintendent in the Stockholm police.

This time, we find Martin Beck and his colleagues investigating some particularly heinous crimes. Young girls are being raped and killed, their bodies lef
Maria João Fernandes
"This isn't an investigation, it's a guessing game."

Em "The Man On The Balcony" Maj Sjöwall e Per Wahlöö agem de uma forma subtil e é com muita habilidade que, desde a primeira frase, plantam no subconsciente do leitor, um conjunto de informações que irá persistir no seu subconsciente ao longo da leitura. Esta permanecerá adormecida (mas não esquecida), como o casal bem planeou e só será despertada no momento definido. O incómodo que sentimos é o mesmo de Martin Beck e só iremos descobrir o que
Nancy Oakes
catching up on unreviewed books (from 2011)

According to author Jo Nesbø, who wrote the introduction to this edition of the novel (third in the Martin Beck series), Man on the Balcony found its inspiration in an actual case that occurred in Stockholm in 1963. At that time, two little girls were sexually abused and then murdered by someone who lured them away from the park where they were playing. Man on the Balcony imagines a similar case and its authors deliver it into the hands of Martin Beck a
Seth Lynch
I read this not long after Unwanted. I didn’t realise that the themes were related until after I pulled it off the shelf and decided to read it. If I had I might have gone for something else – I can only stomach so much child killing in a month. Instead I read it over a weekend and “enjoyed” it. The first few pages sent shivers down my spine – not metaphorically but literally. I felt a surge of tingling energy as I read because I knew I was reading something special. This specialness had put me ...more
Drayton Bird
This is the second in a series of ten books which are generally agreed - by those who have written them - to be have inspired of the current wave of Scandinavian crime novels.

No heroics; a lot of very dry humour; a fair amount of squalor; remarkable detailed descriptions of people's looks and mannerisms quite reminiscent of writers like Tolstoy. Inspired by the Ed McBain books, apparently. I have now read three of them and am working my way through the lot, rather as I did with Patrick O'Brian y
Bev Hankins
May 10, 2011 Bev Hankins rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bev by: Ivan Kreilkamp
The Man on the Balcony by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö starts out with what seems to be a crank call. An elderly woman phones the police to complaining about a "nasty" man who stands on his own balcony for hours at a time--just staring at the traffic and the children at play in the streets below. Before long that call is forgotten as the Stockholm police are confronted with a child-killer. Someone is stalking young girls (average age of ten) and then molesting and killing them in the city's parks. ...more
Wahoo and Sjowall are consistently good- of the four Martin Beck mysteries I've read, all have been memorable page-turners, and one (#4, "The Laughing Policeman") was one of the best I've ever read. This book doesn't quite live up to that standard, but it is an enjoyable, fast-paced procedural that you'll want to finish in one sitting. Particularly interesting here was how the authors modified the typical police novel setup, by revealing the murderer in the title and first page of the book, then ...more
Karla Butler
Martin Beck investigates a deeply disturbing case of 3 young girls found murdered in the parks of Stockholm. A spate of muggings is also taking place in the city and this time, the police conclude that the perpertrator must be the only person to have seen the child killer while lurking in the park bushes. Martin and his team are under immense public pressure to solve both crimes as quickly as possible. Nothing is known of the killer until Martin remembers something by chance from a former inquir ...more
Liked it better than Roseanna. A much better plot and Gunvald Larsson's arrival (my favourite character in the Swedish series) but I cannot get rid of the feeling that I like films based on Sjöwall & Wahlöö's books better than the books themselves, which is usually very rare. I probably shouldn't read the introductions (Henning Mankell's in Roseanna and Andrew Taylor's in The Man on the Balcony) as I'm too influenced by them (in a negative way), e.g. learning about their political opinions m ...more
Every bit as powerful and disturbing as the first Martin Beck criminal investigation. "Good" is not an adjective to be used when describing a novel about a psychopat molesting and killing children. Grief, anger, despair and exhaustion are on the daily menu for the police force. Long hours of combing through irrelevant information, following misleading tips, waiting almost helpless for the killer to strike again and maybe make a mistake. But never giving up.

This series should be a model to follow
I recently read the first in the authors' Martin Beck series, Roseanna, and, while I eventually enjoyed it, I had sufficient reservations that I was in two minds about picking up The Man on the Balcony (the second in the series to be translated, although in fact #3). I'm very glad I decided to, because this had me hooked from page 1, and my attention barely flagged until the book was done.

A vicious mugger is terrorizing the parks of Stockholm, and now a serial sex killer has started murdering ch
I usually avoid any book that deals with crimes against children, but this one was so well written, and I like this series so much, I took the chance. It was definitely worth it! I just skipped over the crime's details to save my sanity, and still really enjoyed this book. They remind me of the Maigret books - just love them!
For me personally the weakest of the Martin Beck novels that I’ve read so far. True, the crime this time is the most heinous, the stakes are the highest, the chase is the most relentless – yet I felt sort of numb, listless reading this one, I wasn’t voraciously turning the pages. In a way, this seems like it could be a reflection of the idea that crime, especially of this unspeakable kind, IS numbing and often just painfully, horrifyingly matter of factly and dull. In any case, I had been readin ...more
Claudia Sesto
"In questo formicaio c'è il signor CHI, abitante in via DOVE?"
Un giornalista andato a Budapest per lavoro scompare nel nulla, Martin Beck è costretto ad interrompere le sue vacanze per cercare di ricostruire ciò che realmente è successo a quest'uomo.
Il nostro poliziotto, anche questa volta ci stupirà, riuscirà con la sua caparbietà e perseveranza a scoprire la verità, l'uomo sembra scomparso nel nulla, senza lasciare nessuna traccia, in un paese diffidente e misterioso, grazie ad un unico elem
I actually thought this was better than the first book in this incomparable mystery series. As a side note, I am starting to get a kick out of droll, Swedish humor.
As per their usual, excellent style, a very detailed, very involving crime story from 1960's Sweden. Specifically, Stockholm. Computers seem to have made an appearance, although not trusted at all by Martin Beck and his band of unhappy men.

A tale of mugging, interleaved with a series of child sex murders, leads the reader through the storyline. Also, missed clues - such as the phone call informing on the eponymous man - feature. This doesn't result in making the police bunglers, rather it makes
I didn't find this third book in the Martin Beck crime series as gripping as the first two although it was still a good read. Apparently it is closely based on a real-life crime in Stockholm in the early 1960s so perhaps this had an effect on the writing style. Certainly the procedural part of the novel came to the fore more than the character insights that particularly interested me in the previous books. The dry humour wasn't as frequent either. I did like the device of seeing through the eyes ...more
Rog Harrison
I had read this book before about thirty years ago and I am now reading this series in order.

This book introduces one of my favourite characters Gunvald Larsson. Larsson is a bad tempered and unlikeable Detective Inspector but he is also a risk taking man of action. We also learn a bit about Detective Einar Ronn who had just been a name mentioned in the previous book.

This is a compelling story where Beck and his team are trying to stop a man who preys on young girls and murders them. At the same
This crime novel was brought to my attention because it was turned into a drama on Radio 4. I really enjoyed the radio broadcast and I wasn't disappointed when I read the book. Set in Sweden, this book follows several detectives (most notably Martin Beck) as the hunt for a mugger and a person who is killing young girls. The story was riveting, the characters were interesting, and it didn't include any annoying banter that has turned me off other crime novels. It's very atmospheric without being ...more
Now that's more like it!

This is the second in the "Story of Crime" series by Sjowall and Wahloo and there is such a sense of urgency to this one that it truly is hard to put down.

The case involves a serial killer/rapist of very young girls and the police are, naturally, more than determined to catch him. There is much less plodding and far more action.

What is really fascinating, are the two main witnesses that crop up in the case: one is a rather violent mugger who was close to the scene of the
This music somehow suits this book:

The problem with mysteries is that they are normally written in series, and one kinda has to start at the beginning..., not only because characters are introduced there, but because character development itself occurs more over the course of the series than over the course of the individual story. On the other hand, many of these writers take several books before they learn... *really* learn... to write. Even Ross Macdon
Rob Kitchin
The Man on the Balcony is the third instalment of the Martin Beck series of police procedurals written by the husband and wife team of Sjowall and Wahloo between 1965-75. The books are characterised by an understated social realism. Beck and his colleagues are normal, everyday people with differing egos, foibles, frailties, talents and opinions, trying to balance work with their home lives. The investigation unfolds in fits and starts, with painstaking footwork, frustrating interviews, and littl ...more
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Maj Sjöwall is a Swedish author and translator. She is best known for the collaborative work with her partner Per Wahlöö on a series of ten novels about the exploits of Martin Beck, a police detective in Stockholm. In 1971, the fourth of these books, The Laughing Policeman (a translation of Den skrattande polisen, originally published in 1968) won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America ...more
More about Maj Sjöwall...

Other Books in the Series

Martin Beck (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Roseanna (Martin Beck #1)
  • The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (Martin Beck #2)
  • The Laughing Policeman (Martin Beck #4)
  • The Fire Engine That Disappeared  (Martin Beck #5)
  • Murder at the Savoy (Martin Beck #6)
  • The Abominable Man (Martin Beck #7)
  • The Locked Room (Martin Beck #8)
  • Cop Killer (Martin Beck #9)
  • The Terrorists (Martin Beck #10)
  • The Martin Beck Series: Books 1-4
Roseanna (Martin Beck #1) The Laughing Policeman (Martin Beck #4) The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (Martin Beck #2) The Locked Room (Martin Beck #8) The Fire Engine That Disappeared  (Martin Beck #5)

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