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The Abominable Man (Vintage Crime/Black…

The Abominable Man (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) (original 1971; edition 2009)

by Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö

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7701612,013 (3.83)28
Title:The Abominable Man (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Authors:Maj Sjöwall
Other authors:Per Wahlöö
Info:Vintage (2009), Edition: 0002-, Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Mystery, Thriller

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The Abominable Man by Maj Sjöwall (1971)



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English (12)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All (16)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Many years too late I have got on to the Martin Beck series of detective novels. Beck and his team are great characters and struggle hard to solve all their cases. The novels are set in Sweden, mainly Stockholm, in the 1960s and 1970s at a time when the police were despised and hated, at a time of great societal change, poverty, unemployment, drug culture etc. This one deals with retribution against a senior inspector - and many more - and is gripping right up to the end. It is as relevant and disturbing now as it was when it was first published in 1971. The authors convey clear political messages through the stories and the characters. . ( )
  jon1lambert | Jun 17, 2017 |
When I wrote in my post on Sjöwall’s & Wahlöö’s Murder at the Savoy that the authors were taking the whole of Swedish society into their analytical focus, I was not entirely correct – with all the harsh criticism there remained at least one area where things still seemed to be for the most part as they should be, namely the Swedish police. Certainly, there was the occasional incompetent cop, the occasional bureaucrat who cared only for his own career, but overall the novels gave the impression that police was filled with people like Martin Beck or Lennart Kollberg – far from perfect, but hard-working and well-meaning people.

All of this changes with The Abominable Man. This seventh novel in the series opens with an aged policeman being murdered in his hospital room, and the ensuing investigation into his death not only reveals him to be incompetent, narrow-minded, reactionary and prone to use violence, but also makes it clear that everyone knew about this, that in fact he trained many young policemen (with rather questionable methods) to his way of thinking, and that the only reason his career in the police came to a sudden standstill is the arrival of a more liberal climate in Swedish society during the sixties – a climate which by the end of that decade (when I presume the novel takes place) has already begun to fade again. And the farther the investigations proceeds, the more heinous the things uncovered about the current state of the Swedish police service – civilians being harassed, arrested on a whim, beaten up in police cars or cells, even left to die – and all of it without the least recriminations, complaints being squished by blind solidarity among police officers or swallowed up without a trace by the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the legal system.

At the same time, this is probably the most fast-paced and action-packed volume of the series so far, taking place within a single day and ending with an extended edge-of-your-seat-tension finale (and a rather high body count). A finale that also is highly symbolic – the Swedish police is so rotten to the core that it is beyond redemption and impossible to reason with, and anyone who attempts it is in mortal danger. It is hard to pick favourites here, but this might just the be the best installment in what has been a consistently excellent series (but of course there are still three more novels to go).
  Larou | Jan 23, 2015 |
This 7th book in the Martin Beck series is a tad more crime fiction rather than mystery but still a great read. The look at how police corruption begins and spreads is fascinating & terrifying. Much of this could have been written recently, so it kept surprising me to remember that this book was first published in 1972. ( )
  leslie.98 | Apr 29, 2014 |
Strano libro, bisogna tener presente che ha quarant'anni. Mio marito l'ha definito "una scemenza", io sono più possibilista. C'è una parte buona, che è il quadro della società svedese e di una polizia non esattamente santificabile e santificata. Ci sono dei personaggi molto realistici. Quello che lascia perplessi è come l'indagine viene svolta, francamente sembra che facciano a indovinare, e le informazioni vengono esclusivamente dai testimoni. E' mai possibile che, se stanno indagando su un ex collega, non sappiano che proprio quella settimana il tribunale dei minori gli ha tolto la custodia della figlia? Ed è possibile salire su un tetto dove c'è uno che spara con un arsenale militare senza nemmeno un banale giubbotto antiproiettile?
Riguardo alla scrittura, è educata e semplice.
  Lilliblu | Aug 4, 2012 |
In a ten-part detective series characterized by its social critiques it's inevitable that one volume must address the police force itself. Who will protect society from those charged with protecting society? If the police force is corrupt, what is the citizenry to do?

This questions is unfortunatley as relevant today as it was in 1972 when The Abominable Man was first published, at least in the United States. There is a very good chance that the state of Georgia has just executed an innocent man after the Supreme Court refused to issue a stay last Wednesday and President Obama refused to intervene in any way. Meanwhile, in Fullerton, California bystanders recently filmed police officers beating a homeless man so severely that he later died.

As bad as both these examples are, the current situation is much better than it was in 1972 when police officers, at least in Sweden as it's depicted in Sjowall and Wahloo's novels, did not have to account for their actions to anyone. Anyone that mattered at least.

This is the setting for The Abominable Man, volume seven in The Story of Crime, the Martin Beck mysteries.

The story opens with the murder of a police officer who lays dying in a hospital bed. Now retired, former Chief Inspector Nyman was never a beloved police officer. Few of his coworkers knew anything about his private life; his family knew nothing of his police work. It's not until he is found knifed to death that anyone takes a serious look at his career. The detectives working the case have no evidence to go on. (This has been the case at the start of every Martin Beck novel so far.) All they know is that Nyman used to be a police, when they force themselves to face facts they know that Nyman was a bad police officer.

They soon determine their prime suspect to be former detective, Ericksson, who long held a grudge against Nyman. Ten years ago, Nyman arrested Ericksson's wife thinking she was under the influence of narcotics and left her chained in a cell unattended. She later died, a result of her diabeties and the officers who failed to get her the medical attention she needed. What they carelessly mistook for narcotic intoxication was actually the need for insulin. Ericksson, forced to continue working alongside the officers who caused his wife's death, along with many others, eventually lost his job as his life spiraled out of control. He goes on a killing spree once he finally loses custody of his daughter to the state.

Even with the presence of Sjowall and Wahloo's cast of good police officers, Martin Beck is far from the only one, The Abominable Man is a stinging indictment of a system that left the public unprotected from bad police officers as it encouraged good ones to turn a blind eye whenever they saw a colleague violating the law even in the most extreme circumstances. It's unfortunate that this story is still so pertinent, but it drives home the point that detective novels need not go to extremes to find subject matter. There is plenty to be dealt with in the work and lives of the detectives themselves. Real police work, done in the real world, is fascinating stuff. Something great mystery writers have always known. ( )
1 vote CBJames | Jul 5, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (117 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maj Sjöwallprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wahlöö, Permain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bouquet, PhilippeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahmann, SusanneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guillou, JanPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoekstra, FroukjeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoff, TrulsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ipsen, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Larsstuvold, RuneForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, BjarneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schultz, EkkehardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Teal, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weiner, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zatti, RenatoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Just after midnight he stopped thinking.
If you really want to be sure of getting caught, the thing to do is kill a policeman.
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"Seventh novel in the Martin Beck mystery series," together known as "The story of crime." "The gruesome murder of a police captain in his hospital room reveals the unsavory history of a man who spent forty years practicing a horrible blend of strongarm police work and sheer brutality. Martin Beck and his colleagues feverishly comb Stockholm for the murderer, a demented and deadly rifleman, who has plans for even more chaos. As the tension builds and a feeling of imminent danger grips Bec, his investigation unearths evidence of police corruption."… (more)

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