Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

In 1965, Swedish crime writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö published a novel called Roseanna. Unlike most detective novels of the time, Roseanna was strikingly realistic in its descriptions of police work—and of the bloody crimes that were being investigated. Even more shockingly, the book's protagonist, Martin Beck, went about his job with a sense of duty that was almost...grim. All of this was by design. Sjöwall and Wahlöö had set out to write a series of ten novels that cast a light on Sweden's social and economic issues. In doing so, they would revolutionize the detective novel and set the tone for the next generation of Nordic crime writers.

Wahlöö was born in 1926 in Göteborg, Sweden. He worked as an international journalist in the 1940s and 50s, a job that provided him with the opportunity to witness the political turmoil and economic disparities that simmered throughout postwar Europe. Wahlöö wrote several novels on his own, including the dystopian thrillers The Steel Spring and Murder on the Thirty-First Floor. Starring Chief Inspector Jensen, these books are set in a not-too-distant future, in an unknown country where corporations rule and the media has...

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