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The Laughing Policeman (1977)

The Laughing Policeman (1977)
Author
Rating
4.02 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0679742239 (ISBN13: 9780679742234)
languge
English
series
publisher
vintage
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The Laughing Policeman (1977)
The Laughing Policeman (1977)

About book: "An investigation which didn't even deserve to be called a guessing game."O quarto do livro da famosa série do Martin Beck é mais uma prova da grandiosidade das mentes do casal Maj Sojwäll e Per Wahlöö. Uma atmosfera cinzenta acompanha toda esta história. O tempo é horrível: faz frio, muito vento e chove constantemente. A escuridão parece permanente, mesmo durante o dia, como que para igualar a disposição deprimente das pessoas envolvidas."The Laughing Policeman" começa por nos mostrar uma das muitas facetas obscuras da força policial. Numa manifestação contra a guerra no Vietname, a policia brutaliza uma rapariga que acaba de fazer 13 anos. E enquanto esta jovem protestante é presa, os olhos são fechados aos ladrões, assaltantes e indivíduos piores. A situação não podia ser mais absurda: todos os reforços estão destacados para lidar com os protestantes, deixando o espaço livre para os verdadeiros criminosos actuarem.Martin e Kollberg, como já seria de esperar, não se deixam envolver por toda esta histeria. A sua experiência profissional ensinou-lhes a evitar serem arrastados para ajudar neste tipo de trabalhos. Por essa razão, optam por se juntar e jogar xadrez numa noite caracterizada pela escuridão,frio e chuva. Atmosfera esta que se irá repetir várias vezes ao longo das noites seguintes.Nesta mesma noite, Estocolmo é alvo de um homicídio em massa. Num autocarro oito pessoas são mortas e o único sobrevivente é transportado em estado critico para o hospital. Entre as vitimas mortais encontra-se o ambicioso e jovem detective Ake Strenstrom, que fazia parte da equipa de Martin.São os irresponsáveis, incompetentes e preguiçosos Kristiansson e Kvant os primeiros a chegar ao local do crime. O duo policial que tive o prazer de conhecer em "The Man On The Balcony", onde a resolução da investigação lhes cai no colo, faz uma contribuição que fica muito aquém da sua anterior e a destruição de provas é apenas uma das consequências do seu comportamento impensado.Apesar de tudo, a sua inocência é bastante divertida e a relação entre ambos, que apesar de muito diferentes se completam, é simplesmente maravilhosa: um escape aos horrores dos crimes da investigação. Enquanto um fala pelos cotovelos sobre todos os aspectos da sua vida, inclusive sobre detalhes íntimos (como a suspeita de um sinal estranho no peito da sua mulher), o outro é um excelente ouvinte e um homem mais do que paciente, eu diria mesmo, um santo!Enquanto Martin Beck e a sua equipa investigam minuciosamente e com calma a vida das vitimas, deparam-se com a tragédia do desperdício da vida humana e o efeito da morte nos familiares e amigos que continuam a viver. À medida que a investigação avança, várias situações vêm à luz do dia.É de destacar a referência a investigações antigas, em particular um caso por resolver duma portuguesa assassinada. Este caso é tão fascinante como o actual sangrento homicídio em massa do autocarro. Entretanto passa o Natal, deprimente tanto para Martin como para Kollberg.Os detectives da equipa de Martin Beck, bem como ele próprio adquirem contornos mais definidos e a sua maneira de ser é para mim cada vez mais familiar. As suas relações já conhecidas permitem-se compreender as escolhas de Martin Beck no que diz respeito à atribuição de papéis no caso a investigar. Sem dúvida que Kollberg é mais do que um colega, um amigo. Quanto ao chefe Gunvald Larsson continua a ser alvo de inimizade do nosso inspector.O casal de escritores sueco mostra-nos como a perda de humanidade é sentida pelas pessoas, ano após ano, num ambiente que as sufoca, através das reflexões e atitudes do grupo de detectives direccionadas ao seu trabalho e vida pessoal. Martin Beck está constipado e mais impaciente do que nunca. O seu aspecto não podia ser mais miserável e o seu estado de espírito bateu no fundo. As comuns dores de barriga que o impedem de comer, levando-o a beber e fumar em demasia, estão a piorar mas Martin sofre em silêncio.No geral, o grupo de policias encontra-se mais sensível e com humores mais imprevisíveis, o que provoca confrontos verbais bastante estimulantes. A ironia e o sarcasmo estão sempre presentes nas conversas entre si, bem como as observações e os comentários impertinentes e irrelevantes que são mais do que ocasionais. Em "The Laughing Policeman" Sojwähl e Wahlöö exploram o submundo e a faceta sombria da cidade de Estocolmo. Somos confrontados com a forma de viver dos imigrantes e a realidade do mundo da prostituição.O desfecho é trágico. A verdade chegou tarde de mais e foi descoberta por um homem morto. Tudo porque um caso não foi resolvido há 16 anos atrás."The police are a necessary evil."

The fourth book featuring Stockholm Police Commissioner Martin Beck is probably the best known, due to a movie adaptation with Walther Matthau in the main role. I can understand its popularity, as it is my favorite so far in this ongoing police procedural series.It is important to accentuate the procedural nature of the story, in order to give a warning to readers who expect all crime stories to have a super smart detective who solves cases by smoking a pipe ot twirling a moustache while the author goes to great lengths to hide the true culprit. Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo write about the real thing, where results refuse to come, frustrating weeks are spent chasing fruitless interviews and poring over mountains of archive records. I find it impressive how many modern authors of crime novels, in the foreword of each Martin Beck novel, mention the importance of this 50 years old series, and how it influenced them in their own writing.The plot is a dark one. On a late autumn evening, a double decker bus is the scene of a mass murder, all passengers victims of a machine gun attack. Nobody has seen or heard anything. One of the victims is a young officer in Martin Beck's unit. The only avenue of investigation is to gather all the information available about the victims, trying to find a motive for the attack and hope it was not the work of a random madman.Beyond the details of the investigation, the authors did a great job at rendering the tediousness of the work and the dismal atmosphere of the city on the brink of winter. Monday. Snow. Wind. Bitter cold. or: The hours dragged past and nothing happened. Day was added to day. The days formed a week, and then another week. Once again it was Monday. Martin Beck is the same taciturn, slightly hypochondriac and manic depressive self that I have known in the first three novels. Here is how he describes himself at one point: He looked in the mirror as recently as the evening before and seen a tall, sinister figure, with a lean face, wide forehead, heavy jaws and mournful gray-blue eyes. Hard to imagine him as the laughing character from the title. In fact his daughter has one of the most heart rending conversations with him one morning over breakfast: "What are you thinking about, Daddy?" Ingrid asked."Nothing," he said automatically."I haven't seen you laugh since last spring" Readers will have to wait until the last page of the novel to have him finally laugh, but for me it was well worth the journey.More than the previous novels, The Laughing Policeman stresses the importance of team work, and puts the spotlight on each member of Martin Beck's team - each one with his strengths and limitations, quirks and affectations. Most of the novel has a downbeat tone, which makes even more precious the little flashes of humor in the banter between the investigators. The blackest kind of humor, gallows style, but still it shows the human side of these people who take their job seriously. So seriously that this passage I have extracted as illustration could apply to any of them: It was true, however, that a few months earlier he had lain awake at night going through the investigation into the murder of a taxi driver twelve years before. What I love about Wahloo and Sjowall characters is that the job hasn't turned them into bitter cynics. My favorite scene involves not Beck, but his colleague Lennart Kollberg and Asa Torrell - the fiance of one one of the victims, a reminder that they are dealing with human persons and not with cold facts. I would recommend this novel to all readers who have, at one time or another, been angry at the local cops and joined the "F..k the Police!" angry crowd. Yes, there usually are bad apples in the force, but some of them are heroes and we have them to thank for a tranquil sleep at night and for a continuing faith in justice.
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Reviews
Richard
What a treat I am having reading the Martin Beck series in order; with this book I'm 4 down and 6 to go.The skill of these writers is creating a brilliant Police procedural and here with The Laughing Policeman you are treated to one of the best.All the detectives play their part in trying to solve a mass murder as they slowly begin to understand that that horrific crime was committed to stop one of their own from solving a much older murder.I especially like the gentle interactions between the detectives, where the lack of progress is drawn out and frustration builds, but a sense of duty prevails. It is good old fashioned police work where everyone helps build the case. The skill is bringing these random pieces together and eventually the team formulate the solution to both crimes.Stockholm is the wonderful setting for these stories and it is again one of the stars of this book. The authors by bringing detectives from various parts of Sweden are able to challenge the ideas of indigenous population against the incomers and other parts of the Nation. I thought it was funny when a policeman helping out from another part of the country poses questions in conversation to conceal is accent and role, only to be spotted and named for what he is, an outsider.Brilliant reflective writing that tells a story and comments indirectly on a nation and its people. I shall have to continue to ration my pleasure as I'm nearly halfway through these memorable collection of crime fiction.
Sun
This is a breath of fresh air to one used to reading English and American crime fiction. Part of the Martin Beck series, it details the case of a mass murder on a bus in Stockholm. It's written in a clean and simple style by Swedish journalists Sjowall and Wahloo, who incidentally were also husband and wife. It's damn good writing, dominated by the quirky consistency of the characters and the gloom of Swedish weather. I can't recommend this enough for its straightforward storyline, the neat police procedural and yet still a great reveal at the end.
Donna
I was first introduced to Martin Beck through the wonderful Swedish TV series with Peter Haber as Beck and Mikael Persbrandt as Gunvald Larsson so I was delighted to finally read one of the original books.Written in the late 60s it is not only an intricate police procedural but a snapshot of the culture of Sweden at the time and the crisp and concise writing works well with the cold bleak atmosphere as Beck, step by step, solves the crime. I’ll be looking for more in this terrific, classic series.
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