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The Man Who Went Up in Smoke

(Martin Beck Police Mystery #2)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  5,861 ratings  ·  365 reviews
Inspector Beck is packed off to Budapest, where a journalist has vanished without a trace. As he trolls about in the Eastern Europe underworld, he pursues a case whose international boundaries grow with every new clue.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1966)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,861 ratings  ·  365 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nordic-noir
”Martin Beck, the born detective and famous observer, constantly occupied making useless observations and storing them away for future use. Doesn’t even have bats in the belfry-they couldn’t get in for all the crap in the way.”

For those fans of Kurt Wallander there will be a deja vu moment when you start reading a Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo novel. Henning Mankell has admitted he was heavily influenced by this series. My relationship with Martin Beck is a little better than my relationship with K
With the first snow storm of the year hitting my area, it seemed like a great time to pick up a Swedish mystery novel. I figured I could put on a comfy sweater and sip some coffee while reading about the Stockholm police tracking criminals across a gloomy winter landscape that matched the view out my window. Unfortunately, the book is set during the summer, and the main character spends most of his time in hot and humid Hungary. So I got very confused and ended up putting on my shorts and going ...more
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A real page turner of a book. A Swedish journalist has gone missing in Budapest and it is Martin Beck's job to find him. The politicians want the case settled quickly to avoid a scandal in cold war Europe (Wallenburg Mark 2 perhaps?) - but can Beck solve the case in time?

The case is absolutely baffling with the journalist leaving only the lightest of traces in Budapest - a couple of hotel check ins and taxi rides. Surely even Beck will find this insufficient. A couple of plot twists keep you gue
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who thinks Wallander is the cat's pyjamas
A Swedish national, a "sports" journalist, goes missing in Budapest, behind the "Iron Curtain." It's the height of the Cold War, and Swedish homicide detective Martin Beck, about to enjoy his vacation, is sent, instead, to look into the disappearance.

A Canadian boy would expect a 70s Budapest to be riddled with spies and spying and suspicion. A Canadian boy would expect oppressiveness and oppression at every Hungarian turn. A Canadian boy would expect high adventure mixed with the KGB and CIA.
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I'm starting to understand Martin Beck now.

If Roseanna was a very good first book that I had some problems with then The Man Who Went Up In Smoke is a very good second book that tackles some of those issues and really gives you a feel for the protagonist Martin Beck.

This time Martin is recalled from his family vacation and despatched to Budapest at the request of a government department who fears that a Swedish journalist has disappeared behind "The Iron Curtain," but far from being a co
I could hear the cigarettes and bourbon tearing apart narrator Tom Weiner's vocal chords as I listened to his reading of The Man Who Went Up in Smoke, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Weiner's voice adds aural texture to a book overflowing with atmospheric texture; he compliments the Martin Beck tale perfectly with his slurry gravelly voice.

And that's seems important to me here in a way that it doesn't in all audiobooks. I think it is because of how important this series is to its genre.

Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
My third Martin Beck police procedural, although some lists consider this the second in the series. This is a standalone story, so the order of reading is not that important. Although the emotional intensity is dialed down compared to Roseanna and The Man on the Balcony, the Sjowall / Wahloo presentation is as convincingly realistic as usual re. the "banality of evil".

The book starts with Martin Beck leaving office for his summer vacation, only to be interrupted by the call of duty the very firs
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At their best these books have a great no fuss, straightforwardness. These are police procedurals with little in the way of histrionics, leftfield plot twists or characters whose motivations don’t have much relation to reality. The characters at the centre of these books are professionals who get on with their job – they interview the suspects, pull the pieces together and arrive at the correct conclusion. Indeed in this volume even the reveal of the killer is done in an understated, without thr ...more
Mar 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this one last Thursday and it was fine. I mean the writing was smooth, the story is interesting with few twists. However it lacks the thrill, and the progress is very slow. but I guess each writer has his own style. Also what I find interesting is that when the case is solved, rather than feeling satisfaction and triumph, Inspector Beck express gloom and despair instead. The reason according to the writer is due to his introverted personality.
The story begins when inspector Martin Bec
Rachel Hall
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second 'chapter' in the Inspector Martin Beck chronicles sees Martin Beck our man away from home, out of ideas and lacking resources when he is recalled from his month long summer holiday with his family. Exactly twenty-fours hours into his sojourn, Martin Beck once again finds himself sitting in the office of Chief Inspector Hammar and agreeing to undertake a relatively hush hush investigation on behalf of the foreign office into the disappearance of a well-known journalist, a Swede named A ...more
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Very methodical, finely plotted book. I am amazed by the way the writers managed to achieve a calm texture while keeping the narrative conflict alive.

Almost nothing happens in the first half. Clues are sparse and lead only to deadlocks. But we somehow keep reading. Give it to the meticulous attention paid to every scene. We see and understand how painful an investigation can be and we cheer when a small detail, the kind that is not even considered in a more kinetic thriller, leads us somewhere.
Book Review

With an introduction by VaL McDermid (she of the famous Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series). And if you haven't ever seen the BBC America televised series Wire In The Blood (available on Netflix as well) and if you like psycholigical serial killer dramas, than this an absolute must-see. The show is excellent!

McDermid writes: So many of the elements that have become integral to the point of cliche in the police procedural subgenre started life in these ten novels. [...] The books of Pe
Deb Jones
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
Authors Maj Sjowall and her husband, Per Wahloo, invite the reader into both the private and professional life of Detective Inspector Martin Beck of the Stockholm Homicide Squad. It is Beck's and his co-workers' dogged determination and time that enable them to solve their crimes.

I enjoy this series for its lack of gimmickry on the part of the authors and protagonist. Police work, and that of detectives specifically, is a grind. That is portrayed no where better than in the Martin Beck series. T
Quite a few four and five stars for this one. I must be missing something.

From the uninteresting characters to the story that was boring in every way possible, I just could not care for this book. most of the time, the policeman goes around and questions people and goes back to his hotel to eat dinner and sleep. Nothing about the story was interesting to me. The ending was not worth the 170 previous pages and I felt like I wasted my time reading it. I expected something better, something that p
Poor Martin Beck. He just can't catch a break. He has just started his month-long summer vacation with his family on a small island off the coast of Sweden when he receives a call to return to duty.

It seems that a Swedish journalist has gone missing in Hungary and Beck's superiors want him to go to Budapest to act as liaison to the investigation. He's told that he can refuse the assignment since he is technically on vacation. But, of course, he can't. Not really. So he packs his bag and heads of
Unpleasant. Very unpleasant. Singularly unpleasant. Damned umpleasant. Blasted unpleasant. Almost painfully so.
Mal Warwick
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some mystery novelists trace the origins of their craft to any one of several nineteenth century writers: Edgar Allen Poe, Willkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, and others. But there appears to be a consensus among contemporary writers—at least among those who are partial to police procedurals—that the leading source of inspiration among modern authors was the Swedish husband-and-wife team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.

Writing in the 1960s and 70s, Sjöwall and Wahlöö produced a series of ten nove
Based thus far only on the first in this mystery (police procedural) series and now this second title, I declare this series by wife / husband team Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo to be Compulsively Readable, as in everybody go away because I'm reading! Main character Martin Beck is an intelligent Everyman with subtle character quirks. The story in this book takes Beck behind the then Iron Curtain to Budapest (mid-60's), but with no emphasis on the Cold War - the authors make no East versus West poli ...more
Nancy Oakes
The Man Who Went Up in Smoke is #2 in the series featuring Inspector Martin Beck. It's his vacation time, and his family has taken a cottage on an island off the coast of Sweden. But only a day into vacation time, he's recalled to work for an important case. It seems that the foreign office is concerned about a missing journalist, Alf Matsson, who was last seen in Budapest. While Beck's not clear as to why the foreign office should be so concerned, he takes on the case, starting in Matsson's las ...more
Martin Beck gives up his annual holidays to go to Budapest to search for a missing journalist. Obviously his wife was not happy but Beck's real marriage is to his job. That is as far as the book goes into Beck's personal life.
With few clues Beck is still able to solve the crime.
Written in the third person, the authors provide great details in describing the scenes and characters - this attention to detail is also what Beck does so well. Plus the book describes the simplicity of life before the i
Thomas Strömquist
The second "Beck/Novel about a crime"-book sends Martin Beck searching for a missing reporter in the 60's Eastern Europe. Quite slow evolving and low-key narrative, this never comes to mind when I'm asked to name the top books of the series, but every time I read it, I'm stunned about how much I like it.
Blaine DeSantis
The third book I have read in this series and it is the most disappointing effort. A solid book but the author gets away from her home base and sets a lot of this book in Hungary in the mid-60's. That in and of itself is not why I rated this lower than her other works. The biggest problem for me is that we have a missing journalist and out of the blue (while on his first day of vacation) Martin Beck is called in specially by the Foreign Office to handle a missing persons case in a country he is ...more
Dec 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahloô are well known in their native country as some of the very best mystery & police procedurals writers in the Nordic Noir genre. I enjoyed this brief story and marvel at the authors' ability to take a seemingly simple story line and weave a great mystery from it.
Do yourself a favor and throw this or one of their other little gems into your mystery reading list. Enjoy, and happy holidays to all.
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading the second book of a series is special, a time to see how the characters and writing of the first book are going to develop. Martin is another depressed detective in a police procedural, but let’s see what book three does.
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspector Martin Beck is called in off his summer vacation to speak to the Foreign Office about a missing Swedish journalist in Hungary. Alf Matsson was last seen the day he checked into his Budapest hotel. The newspaper Matsson works at is making noises about a front page story during a sensitive political time and the Swedish government wants Matsson found quickly. Beck flies off to Hungary to investigate, staying at the same hotel Matsson checked into. Soon he's being followed by police and o ...more
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Swedish police detective Martin Beck escapes from his family holiday when invited to investigate a missing person case in Budapest.

I love Beck's taciturnity and, indeed, the authorial taciturnity. The book is written in plain, sparse sentences. Beck's thinking is private, revealed only in actions. His relationships are economical of words and gestures. This gives the writing a dead pan, sardonic quality - bone dry black comedy. The professional weariness of the police characters is palpable. The
I've been through this book yet again on my way to finishing this entire series for the third time in five years, and I can tell you it just doesn't get old.

The writing may be simple, but there is power in the words of Sjowall and Wahloo. And Martin Beck and his fellows are some of the most convincing cops in all of crime fiction. There really is no other group of police or investigators I would rather read about, not Wallander and his gang, none of the English or Scottish, and not even Holmes.
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Clever story revealing more about Martin Beck the detective inspector who heads up the police investigations written by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. Called the Godparents of Scandinavian crime fiction this series of 10 books are a given to place all else in an historical context.
Well paced and always interesting, the story is of an interupted holiday to investigate a sensitive national who has gone missing whilst in Hungary. I like the fact that the reader can play detective and speculate as they
James Thane
This is the second book in the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. It's something of an oddity in that much of the book takes place in Budapest, rather than in Sweden where the rest of the series is set.

Stockholm homicide detective Martin Beck is looking forward to beginning his long-awaited vacation, but only hours into it he's called back to investigate the disappearance of a Swedish journalist. Beck reluctantly agrees to take up the search which leads him to Budapest and finds h
Kris McCracken
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another fantastic book from Wahoo and Sjöwall. This time, Martin Beck pursues a case in 1966 Budapest, rather than Stockholm. The plot itself is eminently believable, the characterisation spot on. Moreover, the whole thing moves at a cracking pace, even as our narrator struggles through languid, steamy summer days and a seemingly uncrackable case.

I'm making a great effort at resisting tearing right through the entire Beck collection, but if they're all as cracking as this one, I don't fancy my c
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect Sequence: Martin Beck #2 8 141 Jun 09, 2016 03:11PM  
Scandinavian Crim...: The Man Who Went Up in Smoke 1 17 Mar 12, 2012 01:53PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Martin Beck Police Mystery (10 books)
  • Roseanna (Martin Beck, #1)
  • The Man on the Balcony (Martin Beck, #3)
  • 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)
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