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The Martin Beck Stories
10 BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisations
Per Wahlöö, Maj Sjöwall
Neil Pearson, full cast, Steven Mackintosh
Length: 10 hrs and 30 mins
4 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Martin Beck books are widely acknowledged as some of the most influential detective novels ever written. Written by Swedish husband and wife team Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö between 1965 and 1975, the 10-book series set a gold standard for all subsequent Scandinavian crime fiction. Long before Kurt Wallander or Harry Hole, Beck was the original flawed policeman, working with a motley collection of colleagues to uncover the cruelty and injustice lurking beneath the surface of Sweden's liberal society.
On a cold and rainy Stockholm night, nine bus riders are gunned down by an unknown assassin. The press, anxious for an explanation for the seemingly random crime, quickly dubs him a madman. But Superintendent Martin Beck of the Stockholm Homicide Squad suspects otherwise. This apparently motiveless killer has managed to target one of Beck's best detectives - and he, surely, would not have been riding that lethal bus without a reason.
The cunning incendiary device that blew the roof off a Stockholm apartment not only interrupted the small, peaceful orgy underway inside, it nearly took the lives of the building's 11 occupants. And if one of Martin Beck's colleagues hadn't been on the scene, the explosion would have led to a major catastrophe because, for reasons nobody could satisfactorily explain, a regulation fire truck has vanished. Was it terrorism, suicide, or simply a gas leak?
When Viktor Palmgren, a powerful Swedish industrialist, is shot during his after-dinner speech in the luxurious Hotel Savoy, it sends a shiver down the spine of the international money markets and puts the tiny town of Malmö on edge. No one can identify the gunman when Martin Beck takes over the scene and finds a web so despicable that it's hard to imagine who wouldn't want Palmgren dead.
On a July afternoon, the body of a young woman is dredged from Sweden's beautiful Lake Vättern. Three months later, all that Police Inspector Martin Beck knows is that her name is Roseanna, that she came from Lincoln, Nebraska, and that she could have been strangled by any one of 85 people.
His holiday with his family has just begun, but a phone call sends Martin Beck packing off to Budapest, where a boorish journalist has vanished without a trace. With the aid of the coolly efficient local police, who do business while soaking at the public baths, Beck must troll about in the Eastern Europe underworld for a man nobody knows - while he is at the risk of vanishing along with his quarry.
Someone is killing young girls in the once-peaceful parks of Stockholm - killing them after having his way. The people of Stockholm are tense and fearful. Police Superintendent Martin Beck has two witnesses: a cold-blooded mugger who won't say much and a three-year-old boy who can't say much. The dedicated work of the police force seems to be leading nowhere, and with each passing day, the likelihood of another murder grows. But then Beck remembers someone - or something - he overheard.
The thrilling ninth installment in the classic Martin Beck detective series from the 1960s - the novels that have inspired all crime fiction written ever since. In this penultimate instalment of the series, Beck is drawn into a case that turns up mysterious echoes of his past cases.
A young blonde in sunglasses robs a bank and kills a hapless citizen. Across town, a corpse with a bullet shot through its heart is found in a locked room - with no gun at the scene. The crimes seem disparate, but to Martin Beck, they are two pieces of the same puzzle, and solving it becomes the one way he can escape the pains of his failed marriage and the lingering effects of a near-fatal bullet wound.
The bloody murder of a police captain in his hospital room exposes the particularly unsavory history of a man who spent 40 years practicing a horrible blend of strong-arm police work and shear brutality. Nonetheless, Martin Beck and his colleagues scour Stockholm for the murderer, a demented and deadly rifleman.
The Terrorists is the last Martin Beck mystery, finished just a few weeks before Per Wahlöö’s death. The book is, in effect, a marvelous summing up of the series. The story centers on the visit of an American senator to Stockholm. Martin Beck tries to protect him from an international gang of terrorists, while they decide that Beck too should be removed from the scene. Interwoven with this basic story are two fascinating subplots. One, a classic mini-mystery, is the story of a millionaire pornographer bludgeoned to death in his own bathtub.