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 (1935-2020) 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.
“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.”
Maj Sjöwall, our dear friend and beloved author, has passed away. Maj fought a lung disease for many years before losing the battle yesterday. The greatest pioneer of Scandinavian crime fiction and loved by readers across the globe, the world has lost a legend and a wonderful person. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends.
We will miss you so much, Maj. Your memory shall live forever.
Maj Sjöwall has been awarded the Crimetime Specsavers’ Honorary Award 2016. The newly established award is to be presented to authors who have acted as pioneers in Swedish crime literature and put Sweden on the international crime fiction map.
“It is a great honor to be the first to receive this award, given that there are now quite many Swedish mystery writers,” says a happy Maj Sjöwall. The award ceremony, which Maj Sjöwall will also be attending, is to be held on August 20th in Visby, during the closing performance of the Crimetime Gotland Festival, Sweden’s biggest crime literature festival.