If you’re going to Karlviksgatan…..

I’ve been reading a series of police procedural novels written by a Swedish man and wife team, back in the sixties. Why? Mainly because I learned that they were the influence for Martin Cruz Smith, whom I consider as the very best word smith in fiction of our era (Gorky Park, Stalin’s Ghost, Red Square, and others). But I must admit that the Swedish language, even in translation, is rather difficult.

For instance, I will quote a paragraph which is typical: “Karlviksgatan is a short and not very well-known street running form Norr Malarstrand to Handverkargatan, quite near Fridhemsplan. It took Martin Beck ten minutes to get there by car.”

I’d say Beck did it in record time. It took me ten minutes to read the thing. In spite of the difficult language, I would urge aspiring crime writers to read this series. They are not cheap even in ebook form, running from nine to eleven bucks a throw and they are not long books. Most are just over 200 pages. But they were written by the man and wife duo, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. They set out to write ten novels with Martin Beck as their police hero. Some of the latter ones, written during the Vietnam war, take some cheap shots at America, so you can skip those. In those the writers do the unforgivable-they allow their personal socialistic politics to sneak into their fiction.

But most mystery writers will agree that the two authors set the standard for modern detective novels, just as Sjowall and Wahloo obviously borrowed freely from early Chandler and Ed McBain. In that vein, I cannot urge newbie writers strongly enough to READ everything from the good authors of the past. We do indeed learn from those who have trod these paths before us.

About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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