Friday, February 5, 2016

Scandinavian Mystery Discussion

The library will sponsor a discussion series featuring Scandinavian mysteries this winter. The first discussion will focus on a classic in this category, The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.

The discussion will be held Monday, February 22 at 7:00 PM, and will be free and open to the public.

The popularity a few years ago of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels considerably raised the international profile of mystery novels from Scandinavian countries, but in fact the region has a significant history in this area. In addition to The Laughing Policeman, this discussion series will also feature Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell (March 28) and The Snowman by Jo Nesbø (April 25), both internationally bestselling authors.

The Laughing Policeman features Swedish police detective Martin Beck. It won the Edgar Award for Best Novel when published in its English translation in 1970, and was subsequently adapted (rather loosely) as a film starring Walter Matthau. In the novel, Beck investigates a mass murder carried out on a city bus, in which a man with a machine gun shoots and kills eight people – including one of Beck’s fellow detectives.

Sjöwall and Wahlöö wrote a total of ten novels featuring Detective Beck. Their police procedurals were unusual in engaging with social issues current in Sweden, and this focus has become characteristic of mystery novels from this region, Reflecting on their influence, Henning Mankell has said, “I think that anyone who writes about crime as a reflection of society has been inspired to some extent by what they wrote.”

Wahlöö died in 1978. In 1995, the Mystery Writers of America ranked The Laughing Policeman second on a list of the best police procedurals.

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