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The Laughing PolicemanBook #18: Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, The Laughing Policeman (trans. Alan Blair)
Country: Sweden

This Swedish mystery chronicles the investigation of a mass murder: nine people have been gunned down in a public bus, and the Stockholm police must now find the person responsible. When the police begin to identify the victims, they are shocked to discover one of their own: Åke Stenström, an ambitious young detective on the force. At first, Åke’s presence on the bus is their only clue to the investigation – what was he doing there, and could the murder have been targeting him? The police pursue their investigation slowly and methodically, following up even the vaguest information that could lead them to a solution. The clues seem to lead nowhere at first, but eventually all the pieces begin to fall into place.

This is my first foray into police procedurals, and I was a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Being used to cozies, where the detective himself is an important character in the story, I was taken aback to find that this book focuses equally on four or five different policemen. Another striking difference is that in cozies, the detective simply talks to the suspects and solves the crime in his head; by contrast, in this novel the police have to do a lot of running around after evidence. The slow tedium of a police investigation is described very well, and I enjoyed reading about the interactions among the various policemen. The novel is also quite funny in places, despite the overall grim subject matter. The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of character development; very few of the policemen seem to have clear personalities. However, this book is part of series, so perhaps some of these men are recurring characters who are fleshed out more in other novels. Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to mystery fans.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 29th, 2011 06:57 am (UTC)
I read another positive review of this one recently so have added it to my 'keep an eye out for' list.
Mar. 29th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
Hope you enjoy it!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )