I've finally got round to reading the first 5 of these - I meant to for
years and they were recently (in the last few years) reprinted in the UK in
a lovely set of coordinated edition paperbacks with introductions by crime
writers including the contemporary Swedish author Henning Mankell, Val
McDermid, Andrew Taylor, Michael Connelly. I guess it's not very noir or
hardboiled to be drawn to the matching set, but I can't help it.
Recommendation by other writers is a selling point that works very well on
me too. And I'd heard that they were Marxists and for me that made me want
to read them more, though I realise that might not be considered a plus by
everyone. So I couldn't resist buying the whole set at a bargain price
recently and have been alternating them with catching up with Rick Riordan's
wonderful Tres Navarre books.
They are police procedurals but while I wouldn't say they're noir/hardboiled
I think they'd appeal to most people who like reading in this area of the
genre. They're quite well written, with social comment and a dry sense of
humour. They're slow moving (I guess that might put off some fans of very
action based PI fiction but noir is often not very fast moving either) with
investigations often dragged out and frustrated by absurd bureaucracy.
Unlike Jim, I haven't come across any apologias for a discredited
(deservedly or otherwise) political system. They're pretty critical of Swedish social democracy at the time (the late 60s, the later books are set in the early 70s, all of them seem to be set pretty close to when they were written and published). In relation to Communism, one investigation actually takes Martin Beck, the main character, to Budapest in Hungary but this isn't seen as an opportunity to describe a wonderful place or an ideal political system - investigating crime in Budapest doesn't seem to be that different in the book from investigating crime in Stockholm, actually.
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