If any crime novels deserve to be called modern classics, it is the ten police procedurals about Martin Beck and his colleagues. With them, the Swedish author duo Maj Sjöwall (b. 1935) and Per Wahlöö (1926-1975), virtually created the modern detective novel. Written in the 60s and 70s, the decalogue is nothing short of a national literary treasure, with countless contemporary imitators across the world. Together, the ten books chronicle the painful creation of modern society.
Sjöwall & Wahlöö are the recipients of many prestigious awards including an Edgar Award 1971, Gran Giallo Citta di Cattolica 1973, Expressen’s Sherlock Statue 1968, 'The Best Crime Novel of the Century' awarded by the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers, Danish Poe Club’s Award 1974, The Riverton Prize 2006, The Great Caliber Award of Honor 2011, The Pepe Carvalho Award 2012 and The Lenin Prize 2013.
"The Godparents of Scandinavian crime fiction. /…/ Sjöwall and Wahlöö, beside writers such as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Georges Simenon, have shaped the genre and the readers' expectations as to what crime fiction should be."
"Rendered with crisp, elegant prose and tension so thick the reader could crack a tooth."
"One of the most authentic, gripping and profound collection of police procedurals ever accomplished."
"A superb series of thrillers."
"Wherever their plots take us, Sjöwall and Wahlöö find ways to catch the reader on the back foot, making us reassess our take on the world."
"One of the series that most inspired me. /…/ They changed the genre. Whoever is writing crime fiction after these novels is inspired by them in one way or another."
"The first great series of police thrillers ... they caught the colour of the political times and are above all truly exciting"
"[The Martin Beck series is] something very remarkable, a great series of novels about Swedish society which draws a picture of contemporary Swedish life with critical acuity and great force. Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö have provided a multitude of brilliant and vividly human portraits of people in all situations: murderers and police officers, drug addicts and lawyers, car salesmen and heads of state. I believe this album of Swedish crime will live a long time."
"Their mysteries don't just read well; they reread even better. Witness, wife, petty cop or crook — they're all real characters even if they get just a few sentences. The plots hold, because they're ingenious but never inhuman. The writing is lean, with mournful undertones."
New York Times
"Pick up one book and you become unhinged. You want to block out a week of your life, lie to your boss, and stay in bed, gorging on one after another"
"If you haven't come across Beck before, you're in for a treat"
"The plotting, pacing and characterization are all exquisite"
Independent on Sunday
"If you haven't read Sjowall/Wahloo, start now"
"The crime novel at its best"