The fourth book in the classic Martin Beck detective series from the 1960s – the novels that shaped the future of Scandinavian crime writing.
Hugely acclaimed, the Martin Beck series were the original Scandinavian crime novels and have inspired the writings of Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo.
Written in the 1960s, 10 books completed in 10 years, they are the work of Maj SjÃ¶wall and Per WahlÃ¶Ã¶ – a husband and wife team from Sweden. They follow the fortunes of the detective Martin Beck, whose enigmatic, taciturn character has inspired countless other policemen in crime fiction; without his creation Ian Rankin’s John Rebus or Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander may never have been conceived. The novels can be read separately, but are best read in chronological order, so the reader can follow the characters’ development and get drawn into the series as a whole.
On a cold and rainy Stockholm night, nine bus riders are gunned down by an unknown assassin. The press, anxious for an explanation for the seemingly random crime, quickly dubs him a madman. But Martin Beck of the Homicide Squad suspects otherwise: this apparently motiveless killer has managed to target one of Beck’s best detectives – and he, surely, would not have been riding that lethal bus without a reason.
With its wonderfully observed lawmen, its brilliantly rendered felons and their murky Stockholm underworld, and its deftly engineered plot, ‘The Laughing Policeman’ has long been recognised as a classic of the police procedural.