The Man on the Balcony

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

The Martin Beck series is widely recognised as the greatest masterpiece of crime fiction ever written. These are the original detective stories that pioneered the detective genre and inspired writers from Agatha Christie to Henning Mankell; Graham Greene to Jonathan Franzen. Translated into 35 languages, they have sold over 10 million copies around the world.

Written in the 1960s, they are the work of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo – a husband-and-wife team from Sweden. The ten novels follow the fortunes of the detective Martin Beck, whose enigmatic, taciturn character has inspired countless other policemen in crime fiction. The novels can be read separately, but do follow a chronological order, so the reader can become familiar with the characters and develop a loyalty to the series. Each book will have a new introduction in order to help bring these books to a new audience.

Someone is killing young girls in the once-peaceful parks of Stockholm – killing them after having his own way with them. The people of Stockholm are tense and fearful. Police Superintendent Martin Beck has two witnesses: a cold-blooded mugger who won’t say much and a three-year-old boy who can’t say much. The dedicated work of the police seems to be leading nowhere, and with each passing day, the likelihood of another murder grows. But then Beck remembers someone – or something – he overheard.

‘The Man on the Balcony’ balances the most inhuman of crimes with the humanity of the men who must solve it – resulting in a police procedural that is as moving and credible as it is enthralling.

Reviews of The Man on the Balcony

  • ‘Authentic seeming, grim, but fascinating.’ Sunday Telegraph

    ‘A well-told, documentary-type tale of how the Stockholm police slog away…There is something of Ed McBain’s “87th Precinct” novels about it, but with less of a factory finish.’ Spectator

    ‘The decalogue about the Swedish Chief Inspector Martin Beck created by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo during the 1960s and 1970s are indeed classic police fiction. They changed the genre. Whoever is writing crime fiction after these novels is inspired by them in one way or another.’ Henning Mankell

    ‘Their mysteries don’t just read well; they reread even better…The plots hold, because they’re ingenious but never inhuman.’ New York Times

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