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The Fire Engine That Disappeared by Maj…

The Fire Engine That Disappeared (1969)

by Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Martin Beck (5)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9132415,286 (3.8)48
"The lightning-paced fifth novel in the Martin Beck mystery series by the internationally renowned crime writing duo, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, finds Beck investigating one of the strangest, most violent, and unforgettable crimes of his career. The incendiary device that blew the roof off a Stockholm apartment not only interrupted the small, peaceful orgy underway inside, it nearly took the lives of the building's eleven occupants. And if one of Martin Beck's colleagues hadn't been on the scene, the explosion would have led to a major catastrophe because somehow a regulation fire-truck has vanished. Was it terrorism, suicide, or simply a gas leak? And what if, anything, did the explosion have to do with the peculiar death earlier that day of a 46-year-old bachelor whose cryptic suicide note consisted of only two words: "Martin Beck"?"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)



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» See also 48 mentions

English (22)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Karlsson was a typical small-timer, the one who finally delivered the narcotics to schoolchildren in their lunch breaks in exchange for their pocket money and what they could steal from their parents, or from breaking into phone booths and vending machines. How many middlemen the goods had been through before they reached him, he certainly would have no idea, and between him and the root of the evil lay an enormous complex of political miscalculations and failed social philosophy.

The police are staking out a flat occupied by a suspected car smuggler when it suddenly explodes, setting the whole block on fire. Gunvald Larson helps half a dozen people escape the blaze but there are several fatalities and another person dies in hospital later.

This is my least favourite of the series so far. The story rambles along and the strands of the mystery eventually tie up, but it’s all quite unsatisfactory really. ( )
  isabelx | Oct 27, 2019 |
Rispetto ai precedenti, migliore la caratterizzazione di alcuni personaggi rimasti in passato un po' in sordina, ma la vicenda e' decisamente meno interessante, seppur comunque abbastanza godibile, con una risoluzione del tutto fiacca. ( )
  Mlvtrglvn | Jan 5, 2018 |
This was my least favorite in the Martin Beck series so far. This storyline was more disjointed than usual. The mystery was all over the place and the ending did not match my expectations for this series. As a mystery/police procedural this story fell through for me. However, this story did develop a lot of the characters in the story. And, even though the series revolves around Martin Beck, he was more a peripheral character in this one. This story revolved around Gunvald Larsson, a character that I am learning to like a lot. ( )
  jguidry | Mar 14, 2017 |
It was an okay book, slow paced, but nice.
A bit like the British crime novels: not too much violence, with detectives that solve their cases by thinking and detecting rather than beating people up. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Feb 26, 2017 |
Warning: this review contains spoilers


This is the Homicide Squad's most puzzling case yet -- a house explodes and it is determined that one of the victims of the subsequent fire was dead before the blaze began. Was he murdered, or did he commit suicide? Is there any connection with the suicide discovered earlier, where the dead man's apartment contained a note saying "Martin Beck"? What does Martin Beck have to do with this guy?

This was a pretty good case. The detectives are still working through the aftermath of The Laughing Policeman, which makes the series feel more realistic. Most of the detectives get at least one chapter to highlight their day-to-day lives and thought processes. My favourite is probably calm, methodical Melander, who knows his and others' limitations and works around them to produce fantastic results. As for Martin Beck, his personal life continues to barely hold together. His daughter is leaving home and his son is a bump on a log. His daughter suggests that he move out, too -- it hasn't escaped her notice that her parents don't get along very well. What will Martin Beck do?

Overall I am calling this a 3.5 -- the case was interesting, with a resolution I certainly couldn't predict, and some amusing asides. It might have been a 4-star read with fewer (read as: zero) mentions of nipples and instances of witnesses offering to have sex with policemen. The scene with Mänsson in particular was uncomfortable to contemplate. Granted, there are far more explicit books out there, but for me sex in a police procedural is almost always going to be gratuitous, because it is not solving the mystery. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Aug 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sjöwall, Majprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wahlöö, Permain authorall editionsconfirmed
Öström, ArneCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bruna, DickCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahmann, SusanneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deutsch, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Engen, BodilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hodijk, W.M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, BjarneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Persson, Leif GWForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schulz, EckehardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tate, JoanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zatti, RenatoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The man lying dead on the tidily made bed had first taken off his jacket and tie and hung them over the chair by the door.
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