Sunday, January 31, 2010

Roseanna, by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö

(pb; 1965: first book in the Martin Beck Police Mysteries. Translated from the Swedish by Lois Roth.)

From the back cover:

"On a July afternoon, the body of a young woman is dredged from Sweden's beautiful Lake Vättern. Three weeks later, all that Police Inspector Martin Beck knows is that her name is Roseanna, that she came from Lincoln, Nebraska, and that she could have been strangled by any one of eighty-five people. As the melancholic Beck narrows down the list of likely suspects, he is drawn increasingly to the enigma of the victim, a free-spirited traveler with a penchant for the casual sexual encounter, and to the psychopathology of a murderer with a distinctive -- indeed, terrifying -- sense of propriety."


Solid, tautly-penned police procedural that thrills with its spare descriptions of Beck and his fellow cops as they slowly piece together what happened to Roseanna McGraw, a visiting American who had a fatal encounter with a murderer. Despite the authors' acknowledgements of time passing, their writing is quick, days passing in as little as two sentences, months experienced in a paragraph.

The tone of the novel is melancholic, steeped in mundane but telling details and moods; excellent authors that they are, Sjöwall and Wahlöö make this work for their narrative, as they steadily increase the tension of the tale for an emotionally-explosive, exciting finish.

Excellent novel, this. Promising start to the Martin Beck Police Mysteries.

Followed by The Man Who Went Up In Smoke.


Two movies resulted from Roseanna.

The original Roseanna was released in Sweden on August 14, 1967.

Keve Hjelm played Martin Beck. Tor Isedal played Gunnar Ahlberg. Gio Petré played Roseanna. Michael Tolan played Elmer B. Kafka. Kersten Tidelius played Sonja Hansson. Leif Liljeroth played Stenström. Mona Malm played Siv Lundberg. Hans Ernback played Folke Bengtsson.

Hans Abramson scripted and directed the film.


The filmed-out-of-series-order remake was released on video in Sweden on October 6, 1993.

Gösta Ekman reprised his role of Martin Beck. Kjell Bergqvist reprised his role of Lennart Kollberg. Rolf Lassgård reprised his role of Gunvald Larsson. Jonas Falk reprised his role of Stig Åke Malm. Ing-Marie Carlsson reprised her role of Gun Kollberg. Bernt Ström reprised his role of Einar Rönn. Niklas Hjulström reprised his role of Skacke.

Ingvar Andersson reprised his role of Per Månsson. Lena Nilsson reprised her role of Åsa Thorell. Torgny Anderberg reprised his role of Evald Hammar. Anita Ekström, this time credited, reprised her role of Inga Beck. Birger Österberg reprised his role of Kvant. P.G. Hylén reprised his role of Kristiansson.

Daniel Alfredson directed the film from a script he co-wrote with book co-author Maj Sjöwall, Jonas Cornell, Rainer Berg and Beate Langmaack.

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