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The Man Who Went Up in Smoke by Maj Sjöwall

The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (1966)

by Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Martin Beck (2)

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English (20)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Another early Beck story, and the only one where the authors resort to the characteristic Simenon dodge of sending their detective off to investigate a possible crime in an exotic foreign location on a flimsy pretext. Beck is sent to Budapest to look into the disappearance of a Swedish journalist, and Sjöwall and Wahlöö take the opportunity to show us an efficient, modern socialist state being subverted by evil capitalist criminals. The story is engaging and ingenious and the tour of Budapest's most famous tourist spots is fun, but for once the political propaganda comes over as a bit too heavy-handed. Sjöwall and Wahlöö seem to be blithely oblivious to the fact that they are writing less than ten years after the brutal repression of 1956. ( )
  thorold | Oct 30, 2015 |
Book Description: adapted from Amazon.ca
Beck’s summer vacation is abruptly terminated when the top brass at the foreign office pack him off to Budapest to search for Alf Matsson, a well-known Swedish journalist who has vanished. Beck investigates viperous Eastern European underworld figures and – at the risk of his life – stumbles upon the international racket in which Matsson was involved. With the coolly efficient local police on his side and a predatory nymphet on his tail, Beck pursues a case whose international implications grow with each new clue.

My Review:
There are lots of twists and turns here, and definitely something rotten! Matsson, who Beck will discover was well-dressed but a boor and a nasty drunk, had been seen in Budapest by five people: a passport officer, two taxi drivers and two hotel receptionists. However, he has seemingly went up in smoke. He did leave one single clue behind: the key to his hotel room, found on the steps outside the police station. What? Beck is on the case and on the move – and he’ll have an interesting time losing the predatory nymphet on his tail. There was some interesting reading!

Didn’t enjoy this one as much as Roseanna, but I do very much like the character, Martin Beck. He’s smart, professional, and a straight shooter. Will read more! ( )
  lit_chick | Oct 17, 2015 |
This book came as rather a disappointment. I had read numerous critical appraisals of the series of ten novels by Swedish husband and wife team, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, featuring the reserved Inspector Martin Beck, and had also enjoyed the first instalment in the series, 'Roseanna'.

Here, however, Sjowall and Wahloo seemed to lose their way, being bogged down in laconic observations about the perceived quaintness of Budapest in the late 1960s, to the detriment of the plot development and characterisation. It is, of course, always difficult to establish to what extent any such shortcomings are the fault of the original book or inadequate translation. Such divination is, however, rather academic - I didn't enjoy the book and won't trouble myself with any of the others in the series. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Oct 26, 2014 |
Combining the everyday drudgery of police detective work with the daily life of a police detective who has a hard time making the two fit together was, according to the notes, a departure for the genre in the 1960s. Certainly this novel, interesting if low key, is far from the English parlour detectives or the hardboiled American ones. By comparison with the flawed detectives of modern fiction, this is a slow, even plodding, story, although filled with detail that seems typical for the times. The procedural and psychological detail gives the story interest, in spite of its lack of action. Instead of a gruelling cross-examination, for example, the detectives sit in the suspect’s room for half an hour saying nothing, as the suspect grows increasingly nervous and finally accepts that he has to explain what he did. Since most criminals are not masterminds, I think that is a more likely outcome in the circumstances than the notion of a criminal toying with the detectives, leaving clues or holding out until the lawyer comes to save him.
I thought the homey details were interesting – ironically, except for the place names, the Stockholm scenes could have been taking place in London or its suburbs. However, the picture of Budapest, an urbane tourist destination even under the Stalinist regime of the 1960s, with an efficient and helpful police department, was slightly surprising (possibly because of the authors’ Marxist interests). They make Budapest seem more attractive than Stockholm, which perhaps it is.
Another reflection of the authors’ Marxist thinking lies in the crime and the perpetrators. There are no clever criminals here, just an unlikeable victim who got pretty much what he deserves, and a bunch of ordinary, competent people who get caught up in some unplanned violence. This is what the vast majority of crime involves. The attention that crime writers give to masterminds and elites reflects their own job as entertainers, and I do find it absurd and a little tiresome when improbable criminals are the main focus of crime writing. Interestingly, a theme in some modern crime fiction is not so much the elites committing crimes against each other, but the crimes perpetrated through pharmaceutical or industrial companies to generate wealth for the elites. Such stories, however, reflect a contemporary sentiment of mistrust against corporate elites rather than a mistrust of the corporate system. Sjöwall and Wahlöö seem to be more interested in exploring the circumstances of realistic crime and how decent, self-respecting police officers respond to it.
It will be interesting to see what themes they develop in their other novels. ( )
  rab1953 | Jun 9, 2014 |
A very enjoyable read. A journalist from Sweden goes missing in mid-1960s Budapest. Martin Beck must travel there on the behest of the foreign service department to see what happened to the man who went up in smoke - disappeared from his hotel with his luggage and passport still there. Good police procedural - but it is the writing and the characters that stick with you, rather than the plot. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maj Sjöwallprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wahlöö, Permain authorall editionsconfirmed
Binder, Hedwig M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bjarne NielsenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deutsch, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Engen, BodilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jehnich, Dagmar-RenateTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maas, Hans-JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Obregón, Enrique deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tate, JoanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307390489, Paperback)

The masterful second novel in the Martin Beck series of mysteries by the internationally renowned crime writing duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, finds Beck searching for a well-known Swedish journalist who has disappeared without a trace.Inspector Martin Beck of the Stockholm Homicide Squad has his summer vacation abruptly terminated when the top brass at the foreign office pack him off to Budapest to search for Alf Matsson, a well-known Swedish journalist who has vanished. Beck investigates viperous Eastern European underworld figures and--at the risk of his life--stumbles upon the international racket in which Matsson was involved. With the coolly efficient local police on his side and a predatory nymphet on his tail, Beck pursues a case whose international implications grow with each new clue.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:32 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Stockholm Homicide Squad's Inspector Martin Beck is assigned to search for Alf Matsson, a vanished Swedish journalist, and finds himself becoming involved in an international racket that leads him to some enigmatic Eastern European underworld figures.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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