The Man Who Went Up in Smoke, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


The second book in the classic Martin Beck detective series from the 1960s - the novels that shaped the future of Scandinavian crime writing.Hugely acclaimed, the Martin Beck series were the original Scandinavian crime novels and have inspired the writings of Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo.Written in the 1960s, 10 books completed in 10 years, they are the work of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo - a husband and wife team from Sweden.

They follow the fortunes of the detective Martin Beck, whose enigmatic, taciturn character has inspired countless other policemen in crime fiction; without his creation Ian Rankin's John Rebus or Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander may never have been conceived.

The novels can be read separately, but are best read in chronological order, so the reader can follow the characters' development and get drawn into the series as a whole.`The Man Who Went Up in Smoke' starts as Martin Beck has just begun his holiday: an August spent with his family on a small island off the coast of Sweden.

But when a neighbour gets a phone call, Beck finds himself packed off to Budapest, where a boorish journalist has vanished without a trace.

Instead of passing leisurely sun-filled days with his children, Beck must troll about in the Eastern Europe underworld for a man nobody knows, with the aid of the coolly efficient local police, who do business while soaking at the public baths - and at the risk of vanishing along with his quarry.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9780007439126

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Review by

A Swedish journalist, Alf Matsson, has gone missing in Budapest and Martin Beck is asked to go and investigate and try to locate or discern what happened to him. Having only a month long vacation on a remote island with his wife and children to look forward to, Beck readily accepts the case and after a quick investigation of the events prior to the journalist's departure he's soon following in Matsson's footsteps by jetting off to Hungary. Initial enquiries seem to lead nowhere and it's not long before it all seems like a complete waste of time. But why is someone following him around everywhere he goes?Budapest gives a great setting allowing the reader to dissect the character of Martin Beck while he struggles to be enthused by this new investigation. Later in the story we get to see more of the teamwork and camaraderie that was shown in the first book, Roseanna, as well as the dogged nature of the policework involved in actually solving a case like this. It's quite a low-key, almost meandering, plot and those who want a wham! bam! thank you, ma'am approach to their crime novels will probably be disappointed but for those looking for a series that develops it's leading characters as it progresses then you could do a lot worse than this one. My copy of the book came with a nice little introduction by Val McDermid and features <i>about the book</i> and on the authors (including a Q&amp;A) and an <i>if you liked this then you might like...</i> snippet too. Well translated by Joan Tate.

Review by

This book came as rather a disappointment. I had read numerous critical appraisals of the series of ten novels by Swedish husband and wife team, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, featuring the reserved Inspector Martin Beck, and had also enjoyed the first instalment in the series, 'Roseanna'.Here, however, Sjowall and Wahloo seemed to lose their way, being bogged down in laconic observations about the perceived quaintness of Budapest in the late 1960s, to the detriment of the plot development and characterisation. It is, of course, always difficult to establish to what extent any such shortcomings are the fault of the original book or inadequate translation. Such divination is, however, rather academic - I didn't enjoy the book and won't trouble myself with any of the others in the series.

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