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

by Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö

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6671314,382 (3.85)21
Member:Prop2gether
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
Rating:*****
Tags:Mystery, Thriller

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The Abominable Man by Maj Sjöwall (1971)

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English (10)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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 |
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It both analyses what makes people commit horrendous crimes, and what constitutes good policing.

We learn early on that the high ranking police officer killed was not a good policeman. Martin Beck's colleague Kollberg says "he was a barbaric son of a bitch of the very worst sort." His name was never discredited, and complaints against him never got past the submission stage. And many of the current personnel in the Stockholm Police force were incredibly loyal to him because he had trained them.
As the blurb indicates, there is no shortage of people who would be glad to see this person dead, but just one has reached the point of no return, deprived of both his wife and his daughter by this man.

The authors also make some interesting commentary on what happened to the city of Stockholm in the 1960s when 90% of the old city was demolished to make way for "modern" development.

This series follows the changes in Martin Beck's personal life as he rises in the force. He is now the chief of the National Murder Squad, his marriage has collapsed and he unashamedly lives for his work.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of these novels is the amount of descriptive detail included, and small nuances in relationships between the men who make up Beck's team. Beck is very demanding, but he does not demand any more from them than he does of himself. ( )
  smik | May 21, 2012 |
I first read this book about four years ago but didn't recall a single thing about it. After gulping it down in two days' worth of bus reading, I have to ask myself how that was possible. The murder that opens this book is gruesome, described in chilling detail that had me covering my mouth in horror. The character of the murder is somewhat fitting, though, given that the murder victim was referred to as an Abominable Man himself -- the very worst sort of brutal, heavy-handed policeman. Still, it's a nasty way to go, and since the victim is a policeman, Sweden's finest are all over the case.

The investigation is very methodical, but it's not all dull: the last third or so had me leaving little scorch marks on the paper from turning the pages so fast. It was very cinematic -- indeed, one character is accused of getting all his police knowledge from the movies. The book also ends at a good spot, tying up the loose ends but you know life goes on for the characters even after you've closed the book. Very satisfying from an artistic standpoint.

This may also be the funniest Martin Beck novel I've read yet or at least recall. There's plenty of dark humour in the last few chapters, and the narration is very wry, with kudos to Thomas Teal for his translation work. (Maybe the edition I read the first time was a different translator?) There are a few social commentary digressions that could slip into soapbox territory, but the narration manages to poke fun at itself by having one of the characters think these digressions, then he comes sharply back to reality and says, "Why am I thinking about such an odd thing at a time like this?"

I would definitely recommend this book to people who already like Martin Beck, or fans of Wallander. ( )
2 vote rabbitprincess | May 10, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (117 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maj Sjöwallprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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.
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If you really want to be sure of getting caught, the thing to do is kill a policeman.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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