Book Review: The Locked Room, by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö

Though I love the genre of crime fiction, I only very recently chanced upon the sub-genre of locked room mysteries. When I found this book in a quaint little bookstore, I didn’t hesitate to pick it up. The blurb was quite intriguing.

The Locked Room begins with the woman making her way toward the bank at Hornsgatan. She’s nervous, and with good reason to be. She’s about to rob that bank. Everything seems to be going without a hitch, but someone tries to play the hero, and she shoots him dead. In another part of the city, cops discover a corpse. The victim seems to have been shot through the heart, and the room is locked from within. Did he commit suicide? The cops think so, but Detective Inspector Martin Beck notices something that indicates otherwise. He also feels the two incidents are related. Can he piece the clues together?

This was different from any crime fiction novel I’ve read so far. The authors not only offer an insight into the crime, but also the mindset of the criminals as they approach their task. I liked that descriptive nature of the narration. The level of detailing, however, is constant through the book in all aspects almost. Whereas it is good when it comes to character sketches and crime scenes, it doesn’t feel as necessary with the politics of the country or minor quirks of a character. There was very little pace, and at times it felt quite difficult to persist with. The authors also bring about a third impending crime scene, a robbery, and show how the investigations are focused on that instead. Maybe it’s a very realistic touch, and I admire that, but as a reader, I wished the two cases in focus were kept in focus.

Martin Beck, as an investigator, felt very meticulous, at times a bit distracted by his thoughts or surroundings. He irks his fellow officers, and doesn’t make a good impression on them too. I found the names of the places and the people a bit difficult to keep track of, but it’s not a negative point for the book of course. The reasons why the perpetrators did what they had to do are pieced together close to the end, and I couldn’t predict either reason. So it is quite excellent in that regard.

Would I read this book again? I think so. I liked the plot and its execution in general, and the book is only let down by a few things. Not one of my favorite books in the genre, but I’d still say it’s worth a read.


A Score Of 7 Out Of 10
Book Details
Title: The Locked Room Series: Martin Beck #8
Author(s): Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö Genre: Crime Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9780007242986 Publisher: Harper Perennial

No payment was taken for this review. The views expressed here are mine, and they remain uninfluenced and unbiased.


(© Vinay Leo R. @ A Bookworm’s Musing
8th January 2018)

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