Roseanna (Martin Beck Police Mysteries)
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Roseanna (Martin Beck #1)

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  5,030 ratings  ·  483 reviews
The masterful first novel in the Martin Beck series of mysteries by the internationally renowned crime writing duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, finds Beck hunting for the murderer of a lonely traveler.On a July afternoon, a young woman's body is dredged from Sweden's beautiful Lake Vattern. With no clues Beck begins an investigation not only to uncover a murderer but also t...more
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Published April 1st 2009 by Playaway (first published January 1st 1965)
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Jeffrey Keeten
"He looked tired and his sunburned skin seemed yellowish in the gray light. His face was lean with a broad forehead and a strong jaw. His mouth, under his short, straight nose, was thin and wide with two deep lines near the corners. When he smiled, you could see his healthy, white teeth. His dark hair was combed straight back from the even hairline and had not yet begun to gray. The look in his soft blue eyes was clear and calm. He was thin but not especially tall and somewhat round-shouldered....more
So first off, this has nothing to do with that Toto song. Just thought I’d get that out of the way right off the bat.

This was published in 1965 and was the first in a series of ten books about Swedish police investigator Martin Beck. When the body of a woman who was raped and murdered is pulled out of a Swedish canal, Beck is called in to investigate, and he’ll spend months pulling together the facts he’ll need to solve it.

This has an interesting introduction by the Swedish crime writer Henning...more
This is sort of like a police procedural version of John La Carre's Smiley novels. They aren't jargon littered like Le Carre's novels but the hero, Martin Beck, is sort of a non-traditional hero of the same ilk of George Smiley. Beck is a depressed middle-aged man, his only real quirk is that he likes building model boats, he doesn't like being around groups of people, coffee makes him feel sick, he's resigned to having to deal with his family who he doesn't seem to have enough energy to really...more
When I finished Roseanna again last night I thought I should write a review talking about how rare it is for me to reread a book, and how Sjöwall & Wahloo have conjured something exceptional from me as a reader. When I started thinking about how rare it is for me to reread, however, I realized what a load of crap that is.

I am a rereader. I reread quite often, actually. Most of the books I reread, admittedly, are due to the classes I teach. I've read Hamlet and The Tempest and One Day in the...more
The body of a young woman is found at the locks of Borenshult. The local police call in Martin Beck and his team from Stockholm to help identify her and catch her killer. Thorough and meticulous investigations follow.

There's a strong sense of patience and time in Roseanna, as in Sjowall & Wahloo's The Laughing Policeman. I like the reality of long stretches of time, the deliberate treatment of procedural details that, instead of being tedious, give a heightened sense of reality and show the...more
The Martin Beck series is supposed to amazing, I was very excited to finally find the first book so I could find out why. So far, so ordinary.

I can understand how it might have been revolutionary in Swedish crime circles, being the first of its kind to move away from the classic British mystery style of Agatha Christie but for me reading it in 2012 it doesn't have that shock to the senses factor it might have had in 1965.

This mixture of Ed McBain's police procedural style and Georges Simenon's p...more
Book Review

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Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

With an introduction by Henning Mankell (he of the famous Kurt Wallander series) and writes:

"I have a strong and indisputable memory that back then I thought of the novel as straightforward and clear, a convincing story presented in an equally convincing form. [...] Today as I reread the novel I see that my first impression still holds true. The book has hardly aged at all."

Roseanna is remarkable, especially where it concerns Henning's last remark. It could h...more
The clarity of the writing and translation held me in thrall. In Henning Mankell's introduction to the reprint out in late 2008, he mentions that his husband and wife team inspired the new breed of police procedurals by the greats we read now. The view of the cop as a flawed individual with physical and personal issues was a new concept when they began. The slow, solid build-up of tension in Roseanna was so subtle that the denoument, when it came, had me actually gasping for breath. A resounding...more
The Swedish-noir (Swedish-svart?) family tree runs just so: Martin Beck (grandfather) → Kurt Wallander (father) → Mikael Blomkvist (son).

Now I admit that my exposure to this family is limited by my North Americanism, by the translations that filter their way across the Atlantic, by the culture(s) that make(s) these works popular, but even if there are branches and roots of the tree that I can't see, the relationship between these stories is undeniable.

So it feels to me like Martin Beck -- more s...more
The the ten book series (set in Sweden) taken as a whole is an exciting, moving, real-life exploration of the lives of a team of cops and their ciminal investigations. Sjowall and Wahloo, a husband-and-wife writing team (Sjowall died in 1975) use crime fiction as a way of talking about the inherent wickedness of the capitalist system, but politics isn't what the books are about: they're about crime, and justice, and heartbreak, and strength, and all the other things we read crime fiction for. If...more
Maria João Fernandes
Este é o primeiro livro da série policial do Martin Beck, do casal sueco Maj Sojwall and Peter Wahloo. Escrito em 1965 é um livro surpreendentemente actual.

"Roseanna" narra-nos uma história sobre uma rapariga assassinada, que foi encontrada no canal de Göta, na cidade de Motala, na Suécia. Consequentemente, o inspector Martin Beck é chamado de Estocolmo para ajudar na investigação do crime. O primeiro e principal obstáculo é a identidade da vitima, que ninguém conhece ou dá pela sua falta. Por e...more
roseanna is a melancholy novel: i felt sad for the victim, and sad for the detectives (especially martin beck - the titular detective of the series) investigating her death. as they sought to discover the mystery behind her death and found out more about her, i felt worse and worse. i think the novel tries to underscore the fact that people are complex, that they act and react as the result of their experience and predispositions. roseanna reminds us that pain comes to all, and it isn't really a...more
I found out about this book through a recommendation for something similar the Henning Mankell, and it is revealing that Mankell is the one who writes the foreword of this true classic of police procedural novels.
Indeed, Kurt Wallander and Martin Beck seem cut from the same cloth, 40 years apart: middle aged, slightly depressive, with broken marriages, stubborn and unrelenting in the pursuit of justice. I'm not talking about any plagiarizing, each series stands on its own merits and has distinct...more
Well, this is a hell of a way to introduce a character. It was only when I came to enter the fact I was reading ‘Roseanna’ onto this website that I realised it is the inaugural book of the Martin Beck series (as you may guess, I’m more of a ‘pick up and read’ type of guy, than a ‘research deeply beforehand’ type of guy’). There was the legend in front of me: ‘Martin Beck, 1’. And the interesting thing is that by the time I did add it to this website, I was already sixty pages through and hadn’t...more
Bev Hankins
Not too long ago I read my first Martin Beck book by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö--The Man on the Balcony. That book was a little intense for me (it involved the murders of children...something I have a really hard time reading about), but I enjoyed the writing so much, I wanted to give the series another try. So, I went back to the beginning and picked up Roseanna from the library.

Roseanna tells the story of a nameless young woman whose body is found in Sweden's beautiful Lake Vattern. The canal...more
Allan MacDonell
Personal experience prohibits me from imagining husband-and-wife teams successfully collaborating on a vacation or living-room color scheme, never mind together producing ten consecutive homicide procedurals that combine to create a whole—the Story of Crime—hailed as the world’s “first great series of police thrillers.” Roseanna is the first of the books written in tandem by Maj Sjowall (wife) and Per Wahloo (husband), introducing phlegmatic and depressed detective Martin Beck of the Stockholm P...more
Roseanna is probably the best detective novel I have ever read. It is the first in a series of detective Martin Beck murder-mysteries by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, a Swedish couple that collaborated until Wahlöö died in 1975.

The preface by the more famous Swedish detective fiction writer Henning Mankell points out that this book offers a wonderful depiction of Sweden in the 1960s. In that decade, Sweden was a very homogeneous society so that any foreign visitors or immigrants were quite exotic...more
Quite outstanding, and I can see how (written in 1965) this was a game-changer for the genre.

BTW -- let me state here that these five-stars are to be measured, as I suppose with my other ratings, only in the context of the genre in which the book was written -- not as compared, say, to Pynchon or Virgil.
I spotted this set of books on the crime fiction shelves in the library and I had to look more closely. I was intrigued by the numbering, by the twin Swedish names, and I was sure that a couple of the titles rang bells.

I picked up this, the first book, and I discovered that a series of ten books exactly had been planned from the start, by a husband and wife team. That there had been awards,and film adaptations. That back in the early sixties these books changed the genre. They were the first rea...more
Ben Loory
some lady on npr told me to read this the other day, and i'm glad she did, because it was great. i guess all mysteries are about bringing the past into the present, but i've never felt that so clearly as in this book. really brilliant. and emotionally compelling in a way that's rarely found in any book, let alone a mystery.

sjowall and wahloo wrote 9 more martin beck books, and i will be reading them all. quite soon, i imagine. unless i am murdered and thrown off a boat.
Claudia Sesto
Una donna viene ritrovata in una chiusa di un fiume, tanti battelli percorrono quel corso e proprio da uno di quelli è stata gettata, prima di esser stata stuprata. La polizia parte dal niente, non si sa chi sia la donna, nessuno si ricorda di lei e nessuno ha dichiarato la sua scomparsa. Si scopre che è una turista americana, Roseanna, una bibliotecaria solitaria che voleva vedere le bellezze prima dei paesi nordici e poi dell'Europa, ma la sua vita le è stata tolta da uno psicopatico al quale...more
Saturday Drama - BBC Radio 4:
Inspector Beck investigates when the body of an unknown girl is found in a canal dredger.
Michelle Karbon
I have been spoiled with white knuckle murder mysteries that I almost didn't finish this book. Written in 1965, it really made me slow down and think about crimes and how they were solved back then. I think this book was a breath of fresh air, mostly because I'm not used to the old detective or manual solving of a murder. I gave this book a chance and really learned how murders were solved back in the 60s. This book took place mostly in Sweden, with many references to other parts of the world, i...more
A naked woman was dredged up from the bottom of Sweden's beautiful Lake Vattern one July day. Where had she come from? How had she got there? And why? . . . a rash of brutal muggings and child sex-murders with the elusive mugger perhaps the only person in Stockholm to have seen the murderer . . . the search for a hard-drinking well-known Swedish journalist in Budapest, who has vanished without a trace . . . eight people were shot to death in a Stockholm bus, with one of the dead being an ambitio...more
Trevor John
Like watching a silent film of snow melting. I can imagine this couple writing this book, well, he's the one writing while she knits or thinks up ways to describe how the floor feels under her feet: cold and hard, yes, that will do nicely. He was a reporter, this is obvious in the style that dictates the tedious steps it takes to get a lake dredged before the boring details of police investigation done by not so clever detectives. The dialogue is dreadful and stilted, perhaps the fault of a tran...more
Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo were a Swedish husband and wife writing team, who, between 1965 and 1975, published a series of ten books featuring the detective Martin Beck. In many ways, this was an iconic series, forerunner and progenitor of some of the most popular Scandinavian mystery/thriller series of today. Writers like Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo, and Stieg Larson certainly owe a debt to the Sjowall/Wahloo team.

Over the years, I have seen references to this series in reviews that I've read of...more
Kathleen Hagen
Roseanna, by Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö, A. Narrated by Tom Weiner, and produced by Blackstone Audio. CDownloaded from

This is, apparently, the first Martin Beck novel, set in Sweden. A body of a woman is washed up. At first no one can identify her. Then she is identified as a woman, named Roseanna, from Lincoln Nebraska in America, a librarian. But the police can’t figure out who killed her or why. They figure she was killed on a cruise ship. They finally determine that she was killed...more
The first thing I should say in relation to this review is that I'll be reading the second book in the series, The Man Who Went Up in Smoke - that should put the rest of my responses into perspective.

Martin Beck is a smart cop, but unlike CSI's Gil Grissom or Luther's John Luther or nearly any other TV show's main cop (in a procedural), he is not compelling or charismatic and he doesn't solve the mystery in an hour. It takes him three months just to figure out the victim's name - a dismaying fac...more
Roseanna is one of the first popular nordic crime novels translated into English. I realize that's quite the qualified statement, which also deserves some commas somewhere. But hey, it is an actual sub-genre which has reached pop culture fruition in the Stieg Larsson novels. The authors, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, were a duo who have far too many umlauts between their surnames. Other sub-genre authors include Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell, and Jussi Adler-Oslen.

To get an idea of Roseanna, imagine i...more
This first book in the Martin Beck series may have suffered from being read out of order. It was interesting to read the descriptions of Melander and Kollberg in particular, as these colleagues of Beck's recur in most of the books. The mystery itself is in some ways straightforward -- this is much more of a police procedural and less of a 'whodunit'. This is not a mystery in which the reader can solve the case first - information comes to the reader as it comes to the detectives & they find...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...
The Laughing Policeman (Martin Beck #4) The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (Martin Beck #2) The Man on the Balcony (Martin Beck, #3) The Locked Room (Martin Beck #8) The Fire Engine That Disappeared  (Martin Beck #5)

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