Friday, March 05, 2010

The Laughing Policeman, by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö

(pb; 1970: fourth book in the Martin Beck Police Mysteries. Translated from the Swedish by Alan Blair.)

From the back cover:

"On a bitter cold and rainy night, nine bus riders are gunned down by an unknown assassin in Stockholm. It seems a random crime, and the press, anxious for any explanation, dubs him a madman. But Superintendent 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, wouldn't have been on that lethal bus without a reason."


Plot- and writing-taut, unpredictable and thrilling as its series predecessors, The Laughing Policeman is my favorite Martin Beck Mystery thus far, largely because of the strangeness of the crime, and an equally-strange mystery: why was one of Beck's detectives -- who normally didn't take public transport -- on that particular bus?

Worth owning, this.

Followed by The Fire Engine That Disappeared.

The Laughing Policeman, the film, was released stateside on December 20, 1973.

Walter Matthau played Sgt. Jake Martin SFPD. Bruce Dern played Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD. Louis Gossett Jr., billed as Lou Gossett, played Insp. James Larrimore. Anthony Zerbe played Lt. Nat Steiner SFPD. Val Avery played Insp. John Pappas SFPD.

Cathy Lee Crosby played Kay Butler. Joanna Cassidy played "Monica, Beth's Roommate". Paul Koslo played "Duane Haygood, Drug Pusher".

Stuart Rosenberg directed the film, from a script by Thomas Rickman.

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