RARA-AVIS: Re: Maj Sj÷wall and Per Wahl÷÷'s Martin Beck series

From: zupidupi (mikael.eriksson@mattliden.fi)
Date: 23 Apr 2009

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    > Which just goes to prove my point. They are successful as cop novels precisely because any political commentary is so subliminal that it does not get in the way of the story.

    Well, I would have to disagree with this statement, especially the term "subliminal". I re-read the whole series in chronological order a few years ago (in their original language - Swedish being my mother tongue) and I got more and more irritated with their not very nuanced social commentaries. At the end of the series, I found it almost froth-mouthed ranting. The early books still manage to focus on the main story, but the last ones find it rather hard to concentrate on the main plot. The side comments also tend to repeat themselves. I guess the authors run out of ammo, if not steam, towards the end.

    The Sj÷wall-Wahl÷ books are in many ways images of their time, reflecting the problems arising in the Nordic welfare states in the 60's and the seventies. Some of the images aren't too badly treated by time, whereas others are hopelessly faded and wrinkled.

    It's a shame, since the procedural detective story genre is an excellent channel for making social commentaries *without* pointing out the obvious. Ed McBain would be a fine example - reading him gives you a fine view of the seedier parts of the city (or a good look at flaws in the system), without any moralizing. His early books seem quite innocent compared to todays standards, but I don't find them outdated.


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